Of course you love each other as a family! But how often do you say or show it? Families that are expressive and open with affection and encouragement create a secure and nurturing environment. Children also learn from example, so being openly loving to your spouse is helpful to them to learn the foundations of model positive relationships. Saying ‘I love you’ and ‘thank you’ as well as being free with cuddles demonstrates the basics of love.
Every family is unique – so why not make it even more so with a family tradition? A tradition is an important element of strong families because they are a powerful symbol of togetherness. It also adds interest to the otherwise routine activity of daily life. And because a tradition is planned and purposefully repeated, it offers a time for all members of the family to be more mindful of each other. You can make your traditions big or small: a secret handshake; an inside joke; wave or theme song; a nightly bedtime ritual or a special event like a yearly family holiday.
Don’t let chores get you down! Turn the mundane into a teachable and shared moment. Doing household routines together has the added benefit of nurturing important values in children as well as alleviating the load for busy parents. Children as young as 2 or 3 can start chipping in by putting away toys, feeding pets or making the bed. Older children can help with setting tables for meals, packing away laundry and clearing the trash. Teens can undertake more responsibilities such as mopping, vacuuming or doing their own laundry. Be patient with kids as they learn and watch them gain confidence and learn the value of hard work.
Research has proven time and again that it’s not the quantity but the quality of time spent together that matters. Even a simple act like eating together helps strengthen ties and benefit children. Research shows that children who eat dinner with their families are less likely to drink, smoke, take drugs or fall into depression. Additional research found that children who enjoy family meals do better in school, have larger vocabularies, better manners, healthier diets, and higher self-esteem. You can spend time together in many ways – be it by having meals, exercising or going out as a family. What is important is to be mindful and present – so put away digital distractions like your smartphones.
A family that works together stays together. What better way to teach teamwork, conflict resolution, communication and patience than by embarking on a project together? Family goals not only enable you to achieve something as a group (complete a puzzle, spring clean the house or finish a DIY project) – they are also a powerful way to build trust and cohesiveness. It is also an opportunity for mum and dad to set examples of good behaviour and values.