By Michael Fehlauer
The following are traits that are connected with strong family relationships:
They freely show appreciation – In studying family relationships that are strong, I have noticed they are quick to compliment each other and always demonstrate approval and support.
They have an ability to deal with crises in a positive manner - Families that are healthy are able to help each other respond to bad situations by focusing on the possibilities within each problem and challenge.
They spend time together - In all areas of their lives whether it is meals, work, recreation; these families structure their schedules to spend time together.
They are highly committed to one another - Families that are strong, promote each other’s happiness and welfare. They invest time and energy in each other and make family their number one priority
They have effective means of communication - Those with healthy family relationships spend time talking with each other. They not only openly discuss feelings, concerns and disagreements, but they also take the time to listen to one another which shows respect.
They have a high degree of religious orientation - Not all family relationships that are strong belong to an organized church, but families that “win” consider themselves highly religious. Even if they don’t regularly attend church, they recognize a “higher power” and realized there are eternal principles worth living for.
Seven additional keys to building strong family relationships -
1. Develop a mission statement – Some families have a family crest that serves as a point of identity and recognition. In the same way, a family mission statement serves as a unifying factor that can galvanize family members around common principles and values. A family mission statement also establishes a “we” mentality instead of an “I” mentality.
2. Establish life values – We all know the frustration of making New Year’s resolutions only to experience failure months later. It is one thing to have good intentions, another to have the resolve to follow through. It is when our good intentions become a settled conviction within our hearts that they translate into life values. Life values transform good intentions into godly decisions.
3. Think in terms of legacy – The Bible instructs us to leave a heritage to our children. The definition of heritage is, “The spiritual, emotional and social legacy passed down from parent to child – whether good or bad.”
It is this overall idea of legacy that you must keep in mind in building strong family relationships. It is important to realize that legacy is not an event, it is a process. Another way of saying that is, “legacy is caught more than it is taught.” Legacy is demonstrated in the way you live your life and how you relate to your family members.
4. Create an atmosphere of forgiveness and grace – Your family members don’t want to feel as if you are defining their value based on their accomplishments or behavior. Love and accept them unconditionally. Offer loads of encouragement rather than constantly criticizing one another.
5. Preserve the dignity of your family members - Reminding family members of past wrong doings results in keeping a ledger of failure. When you bring up the past in order to drive home a point, you are poisoning your family’s hearts with shame. This communicates to your family members they are defined by their past. The result is despair. There is no way they can undo their mistakes.
6. Establish a rallying place – Whether it is over the dinner table, bedtime, devotional time, family meetings, make sure to create a place to huddle and connect.
7. Celebrate the uniqueness of each family member – Family relationships that are healthy also need to know they are celebrated for who they are as individuals. Recognizing the unique gifts and abilities in your family members builds in them a sense of confidence.