Family relationships are an essential part of a family’s wellbeing. The progress and growth of any family are dependent on the relationships that exist among the family members. When these relationships among the members of a family are appropriately managed, the family keeps thriving, and when they are not, it can disintegrate the family.
Managing family relationships can be interesting; at the same time, it can also be stressful. There is no perfect human being – people can be very lovely and difficult at the same time. Hence, managing and improving different aspects of your family relationships is vital.
Life functions on relationships and managing relationships that are very dear to us (family) is a task we need to take seriously. Great family relationships are fun, enjoyable and have numerous advantages to every family member. On the other hand, poor family relationships have detrimental effects on a family and beyond. For example, a person with poor/problematic family relationship is likely to transfer his/her emotions to other aspects of his/her life which might affect ‘external’ persons.
When a family is working, every member feels loved, supported, carried-along and thus makes positive contributions to the family. Hence, we must understand the importance of managing our family relationships.
Here are crucial tips for managing different aspects of your family relationship:
1. Have open conversations
Be open to expressing your thoughts, plans and feelings in your family; these make it easier for other family members to be carried along. By so doing, everyone would feel valued and respected, and this strengthens your family bond. When you keep issues closed up or matters that should have been left open for others also to contribute, you can start a conflict you never imagined. Open and positive communication involves listening to each other without ‘judgement’. Make corrections as needed but don’t judge.
When there are poor communication and restricted flow of thoughts and feelings, confusion and other unhealthy sentiments set in. Every member should be approachable at any time to discuss matters of concerns and also to talk about difficult things. If your spouse or kids want to talk, give them rapt attention. Allow them to express themselves adequately by listening attentively. If it’s between siblings, make out time, have regular meetings to resolve issues as soon as they emerge.
"Some families only meet when there is a marriage or funeral. I encourage families to have a bespoke reunion. This type of meeting can help family bonding."
2. Get along with every member
Every person is unique regardless of blood relationships; hence, in a family setting, don’t expect every family member to behave like you. Whether your relationship in the family is blood (e.g. direct birth into the family), marriage, adoption or just belonging to a family – PLEASE DEAL WITH EVERYONE WITH UNDERSTANDING. Try to avoid each other’s trigger points and negative behaviours. Focus more on the positive ambition of getting along with everyone irrespective of your differences (uniqueness).
3. Draw from the power of apology
It is never too late to apologize! Heartfelt words like ‘I am sorry’ are powerful and can make amends. If you caused a strain on your family or acted inappropriately, apologize and seek to restore the family relationship. When another family member hurts you, forgive them. Cautiously notify them of your feelings and their errors.
4. Seek external support where necessary
In a likely situation where apologies and reconciliation do not work, please maintain your peace. Don’t give up just yet. Seek external support to help with the reconciliation process. First, try your trusted friends. Second, there are qualified counsellors, psychologists, and therapists that can help in such situations.
While waiting for things to fall back in place, maintain a healthy lifestyle to avoid a mental breakdown. Free yourself from the grudges. Forgive and release the concerned family member from your heart. Doing this will enable you to reconcile effectively. In a likely situation of estrangement, you can start a new family or integrate into another family with a sane/open mind.
Seeking external support should not only happen when things are going messy, while everything is still working, you can also seek for better ways of building your family relationships—E.g. By reading articles like this one and others.
5. Organize reunion events or activities
One culture that I cherish so much is the 'Thanksgiving' in the United States of America, which allows families to come together. Different cultures have this type of occasions. Maximize it. Some families only meet when there is a marriage or funeral. I encourage families to have a bespoke reunion. This type of meeting can help family bonding. This tip will help you in managing your family relationships.
"Family is where one’s heart is, but ensure that your heart is guarded by love, warmth and peace. Consciously aim at supporting people in your family circles."
6. Create a family calendar
You will be surprised how many frictions occur in families because one’s birthday or anniversary was not remembered. I strongly recommend that families should have a family calendar that documents important dates of family members. This can provide a practical solution to people that forget one’s special days.
Again, reach out to your family members on their special days. They will feel loved, cherished and honoured. Also, do well to remind the other members of your family of such important dates.
7. Support one another in the family
The essence of a family is to be a haven that one can get that exceptional support. Family is where one’s heart is, but ensure that your heart is guarded by love, warmth and peace. Consciously aim at supporting people in your family circles.
Here are some of the ways that you can do that: (a) Ask about their welfare. (b) Give financial help where needed (c) Give suggestions or advice where needed (d) Help out with chores and other tasks. e.g. if you have a family member that his/her motor skills are poor – help such family member to fix things in their houses/apartments (e) Call to check up on them regularly (f) Attend their events when ‘invited’ (g) Send gifts across to your family members, you don’t have to wait for special occasions only (h) And so on. Feel free to continue to list in the comments section.
I challenge you to put these nuggets to practice, and your family relationships will experience a great lift.
Remember, you are always welcome to write back and share insights that relate to this topic. Let’s dazzle together!