Our society thrives on strong families. Our family teaches us how to function in the world. It should provide love and warmth to all of its members. A strong family gives its members the support they need to make it through life’s toughest spots.
Strong families have good communication. Strong families have open lines of communication where all family members feel heard and respected. One of the best ways to strengthen your family is to increase your listening skills and those of other family members. Until we can hear each other, we cannot build strong relationships.
To build strong family relationships, listen actively to each other. Give the person your full attention, turn off the TV or put down what you are doing. Focus on what the person is telling you — rather than thinking about your reaction or response to what is being said, there will be time for that.
Listen for how the other person is feeling and relay back to them what you think they were saying and how they are feeling. “I hear you saying that you had a bad day. You look pretty mad. Did something happen?”
From my experience, make sure to resist giving advice or your reaction until you are certain you have fully understood what the person was saying to you.
Do no point the blame on the other person when talking. Accusing messages are more difficult because they require us to be clear about our own thoughts and feelings. They, however, increase the chances that our message will be heard and decrease the chances that a fight will begin.
Encourage all family members to share their thoughts and feelings. Strong families allow all family members no matter how young or small to talk about their thoughts and feelings. This does not mean that members are not respectful of one another, but rather that feelings and ideas are respected. Everyone should be expected to express themselves in appropriate ways. When people feel heard and respected, they feel better about themselves, are more open to solving problems, and are more likely to allow others to express themselves.
Strong families spend time together. In today’s busy world it can be difficult for families to find time to be together. All relationships need attention and this includes the family as a whole. Go back to eating at the table together without the television on. It is the perfect place for talking. Let’s get back to building the family. If we build the family, the family will build great morals and values in the world.