Monday, March 4, 2013

One Big Happy Family.

One Big Happy Family:
How do we achieve happiness as a family, especially when you consider varying personalities, interests and communication styles? Not to mention different genders and ages, two-adult homes and one-adult homes? I recently read an article based on a book by Bruce Feiler on this very topic. He introduces some interesting facts and concepts I think worthy of sharing. In our incredibly fast paced lives, full of stress and worry how do we find peace at home?
I think most people have heard how beneficial sharing family dinner together  can be. But an alternative to that can be other meals and snacks, such as breakfast or evening when everyone is more likely to be home. It can be difficult to get children’s attention and have meaningful conversation and a car ride can be a quiet and uninterrupted time to do so. Turn off the radio and electronics and use this time for some one-on-one time.  Surveys show that children want their parents to be less stressed and tired, even more than spending time together. Having a conversation about life’s expectations, stresses, self-care and how to cope can be very valuable for children. Another suggestion for effective conversation is to arrange your living area in a circle. People feel more connected and can take in verbal and body language best from this distance range and formation.  Plan a family meeting or discuss current conflict in this setting.
The most common time of day for conflict is dinner time. To avoid or minimize conflict, set expectations in terms of what time dinner is and who is responsible for what chores in meal preparation and clean-up. Set rules for what can and cannot be discussed at family meal time. Any sensitive or emotionally charged topics can be planned for another time outside of meal time. It is recommended that children be involved in choosing and planning their own consequences inside choices that parents set. A child is more invested when they have some control and responsibility in discipline. An interesting bit of research suggests that when there is difficult parent-child discussions it is often helpful to have more than one female involved. The article states reason being, that females are typically more sensitive to everyone’s input, more capable of reaching compromise and more efficient.
The good news is that research shows most families ARE happy! 75% say that family is the most important thing to them and 85% say that the family they have today is as close as or closer than the family they grew up in! Which areas can you improve for your family to achieve greater happiness?
 For more suggestions on improving happiness in your family, additional ways to support your family and for other great parenting tips call the Family Support Line at 1-800-CHILDREN (800-244-5373) OR 1-866-Las-Familias (866-527-3264) for Spanish speakers. You can also e-mail with questions or concerns. The Family Support Line offers parenting tips, resources and information only and does not serve as legal or mental health advice. We believe you are the paramount person to decide what is best for your family. Comments provided by non-Families First individuals are not the opinion of Families First.