Love and relationships, they form the backbone of a strong family and can bring us joy and heartache in equal measure.
Family life can be busy, it can be loud and let’s face it, some days it can be downright challenging! But would life be half as interesting (or fun) without special people to share it with? Life is all about different experiences and relationships.
A robust family bond will give you all a sense of belonging, but you do have to work at it! It’s not always a game of happy families, real life brings disagreements and differences of opinion, it brings hectic days and times when spending quality time with loved ones feels a bit like mission impossible. Families can span generations and contain a huge melting pot of personalities, keeping up with everyone (and trying to please everyone) isn’t easy.
Close Family Vs Extended Family
Do you make a distinction between “close” family members and those you would describe as “extended” family? You might consider your close family as those you share your home with, such as your partner and children. “Close” family may also include the family members you see on a regular basis or have a strong relationship with, such as your parents and siblings. These are often the key family members in our life, the people we can turn to for care and support, the people who love us unconditionally and who we love in the same way. Then there’s cousins, aunties, uncles, godchildren and step-families to consider, along with the friends you’ve known forever (who may as well be family members). No wonder it’s hard to keep up with everyone!
Some of us have relationships with non-humans too…not aliens from the planet Zarg but many of us have a special place in our hearts for four-legged, fluffy, feathered, furry or scaly family members who share our homes too. Let’s be honest some of us prefer our pets to certain relatives (don’t worry we won’t tell anyone)!
Conflict and Families Go Together Like Coffee and Cream
It’s fair to say relationships aren’t always straightforward and fall-outs can affect an entire family and send ripples throughout it. Arguments within the home can cause tension and stress, creating a bad atmosphere.
Relationship building is key in creating a strong family bond, resolve to make time for your nearest and dearest. Do you feel there is a gap that needs to be bridged between you and a loved one? Improve relationship ties by finding some common ground. Don’t dwell on the past, base relationship goals on what you want to achieve in the future.
“Relationship Building Is Key In Creating A Strong Family Bond”
Be careful who you turn to for support, moaning about a sibling to your mother could result in problems across the board. It’s also important not to feel compelled to follow everyone’s counsel. It’s amazing how many people think they are an expert when it comes to offering relationship and love advice or recommendations on how to deal with a family issue!
Start with your immediate family, think about the bond you have with those who share your home. Are you happy and are those you live with happy with the family dynamic? Do you think of your relationships as successful? Even if you answer yes there’s always room for improvement when it comes to relationships, after all life is about growth, development and learning through your experiences. So, let’s explore how you can strengthen that family bond and build a strong family.
Work on Avoiding Conflict
Just because conflict is considered part and parcel of family life you don’t have to actively seek it out. It’s better to enjoy time with your loved ones than to play peacemaker or join in with a big row! You need to learn how to get along and relax together, this might need some work so don’t be put off!
Meditating together can be useful, but children may find that a little too much (however it doesn’t mean you can’t head off for a spot of calming meditation yourself if it’s all getting too much)! Sometimes removing yourself from a potentially pressurized situation can help to diffuse it. If you feel your hackles rising take a moment (and take a few deep breaths), de-stress and find your calm.
Try and put things into perspective, what is the conflict about? Does war really need to break out over the TV remote? If your kids are driving you nuts take time out.
If your partner is being thoughtless don’t silently seethe and then explode, gently remind him/her to load the dishwasher (chances are they have just forgotten rather than they can’t be bothered).
The main thing to remember is that engaging in an argument means you have automatically lost, a winner is someone who can rise above. Having an argument feeds the fire and will result in one of two outcomes – you will come off better and the other person will feel chastened or hard done by, or you will come off worse and the other person will have fortified their position (even if they are not in the right)! The solution? Don’t engage. Instead go for a better tactic and learn how to win friends and influence people.
Develop a Strong Family Bond
There are numerous ways you can improve relationships and one word crops up time and time again – together. Being a family is about doing things together, enjoying time together and just being together. You don’t have to spend every waking minute in one another’s pockets (that would be trying)! But there are plenty of things you can enjoy as a family.
The key is to make time for one another so step away from the tech (we know it’s hard to do it) but mobiles, tablets and lap tops are not conducive to quality family time! There are even apps out there that will shut your phone down to allow you and the family to be productive without the temptation of looking at your phone. Take time to enjoy activities all together (if you are parents, factor in a visit to the park followed by a family movie night with popcorn and snuggles). There are many avenues you could explore together as a family unit, tap into your creative side and take up an instrument or learn to draw and paint together. Even simply playing together can strengthen love and relationships within your family.
Try and make time to eat together, (this can include preparing and cooking a family meal together too), kids often enjoy the chance to wash and chop veggies and although there might be a little mess it’s worth it! Sitting down together to eat at the table a couple of times a week offers the chance for decent conversation and the opportunity to share news, offer opinions and maybe even love advice to emotional teenagers!
After dinner you could veg out but better still grab your coats and head out for a walk, enjoy the fresh air and if you have a dog even better – use Fido as the perfect excuse to all head out together a few times a week. Exercising together improves fitness and also helps with relationship building. You could even consider finding a hobby – maybe you could all go swimming together or join a class such as martial arts?
Make sure you also save some time for the grown-ups, when the kids are in bed ditch the TV and enjoy a cuddle, pour a glass of wine and ask your other half how it’s going. Try and remember that you had a life before the kids – learn how to foster that loving relationship once again. Here’s a thought – you could even have sex – beats watching the same old soaps any day!
The most important thing is to acknowledge and value one another. It’s easy to take family for granted and only make time when absolutely necessary (such as Christmas or birthdays), but why wait for a special occasion? Be grateful for one another and embrace one another at every opportunity.
Can I Set My Own Relationship Goals?
The answer is a resounding Yes! Love and relationships need to be nurtured, so focus on relationship building. Use our guide above as a starting point – a strong family can get through anything so set your sights on strengthening that all-important family bond. We would love to hear about your own experiences and your ideas for improving family relationships and look forward to reading your comments.