7 Simple Ways to Build a Strong Family
Daily practices to maintain rock-solid ties with your family.
Covid is thankfully winding down and we are getting back to our lives. Hopefully we learned a lot about slowing down and savoring our families. As we move back into our busy lives, here are some simple ways to maintain rock-solid ties with our families.
1. You Had Me at Hello
Don’t overlook the importance of daily greetings when leaving in the morning and coming home at the end of the day. Simply saying a proper goodbye, along with “Have a good day” and a kiss and a hug breeds connection. Repeating the same thing at the end of the day, with “How was your day?” can do the same thing.
Gretchen Rubin in her book, The Happiness Project, describes how warm greetings and farewells were one of the simple things that made her family happier.
Physical touch is key. Hugs shows love and warmth and can have positive effects on children’s social and emotional development. It helps release oxytocin which helps us bond to others; it also lifts moods, calms behavior, and relaxes the nervous system. An extra bonus: it reinforces good social skills in our kids, teaching them basic decency and models courtesy to others.
2. Remember When…
Children love to hear stories from when they were a baby, or on vacation, or from when their parents were children. Reminiscing is a great way to elicit language and share family history. Family photos or videos can be a great springboard for stories. This is one time you should be whipping out your phone with your kids. But don’t forget to take out your old photo albums from when you were a kid, as well.
3. This Is Us
Research indicates that telling stories about family history builds strong and resilient kids, bonding them to their family. The healthiest family stories are the oscillating narrative, stories about ups and downs of life and how you, or their grandparents bounced back from tough times. Jewish family lore is replete with these stories.
4. You Did It!
Remind children of their own oscillating narratives, their own past accomplishments and how they overcame challenges they may have had. For example, “Remember the time you hurt yourself when riding your bike and you just got up and brushed yourself off?”
“Remember the time you lost your key and you backtracked, thinking over your day and where you were, trying to remember where you put it. That did the trick.”
This gives children a positive view of themselves. As parents, we often forget many of the small accomplishments of our children. Retelling these stories can be a good reminder, and boosts the image of our children in their eyes – and ours.
5. Let’s Eat!
The studies on family dinner continue to get better. Children who have dinner with their parents every night have:
- Better academic performance.
- Higher self-esteem.
- Greater sense of resilience.
- Lower risk of substance abuse.
- Lower risk of depression.
- Lower likelihood of developing eating disorders.
- Lower rates of obesity.
I know this is not so simple, but trying to eat as many meals as you can together, including breakfast, can help. Shabbat meals together have also shown to increase bonding and connectedness between family members.
6. Just You and Me
Each child needs some private time alone with their parent every day. This is especially true for mothers and their children. Ten minutes a day with each child can give children that one-on-one attention that they crave. A child who knows that their parents make time for their relationship every day feels loved and secure.
7. Lighten Up and Have Some Fun
There’s nothing better than having fun with your family. Private jokes, insider looks, silly games that only your family plays all add to the joy and laughter of a strong family.