Have you ever had one of those moments where everything seemed to be going right and suddenly, for some unexplained reason, a meltdown occurs?
It could be your 4-year-old, your 14-year-old, or even yourself. A perfectly fine moment ripped to shreds in seconds and you ask yourself, “Why me? I don’t recall signing up for all this drama.”
This is one of those “good news, bad news” moments. The bad news is meltdowns come with the territory. Any parent who has walked the road will tell you even with the “easy child” there were trying moments.
The good news is you’re not alone. If you compared notes with families everywhere, you would find that everybody deals with drama; some of them just have less of it. And that’s what people want: less drama, more fun and adventure as a family.
Experts examined the qualities of healthy, happy families and found that there are specific things families can do to decrease drama and increase family well-being. Here they are in order of importance.
- Problem-solve. Couples and families who are able to identify a problem and agree on a solution tend to do better over time.
- Affirm. Families who verbally express high regard for one another and show interest in other family members and what is happening in their lives tend to be healthier.
- Openly communicate. Weekly family meetings where schedules, chores, and issues are discussed teach children how to express their feelings appropriately, how to listen to others and how to problem solve.
- Have well-defined boundaries and organization in the family provide security for children which helps them feel in control and safe.
- Establish family rituals and traditions. Studies show that family meals, no matter when they occur, can improve educational performance, lower depression rates in girls and boys, decrease the risk of alcohol and drug abuse and help children feel more connected. Family traditions connect children with family history, giving them a foundation upon which to build future generations.
- Build trust. Children and adults in a healthy family environment experience high levels of trust. Spouses place trust in each other and model what it means to be trustworthy in a relationship. Children learn they can count on their parents to meet their needs.
- Discuss sexuality. Age-appropriate, ongoing conversations about body image, the opposite sex and healthy relationships are common in healthy families.
- Develop family history. Children who are loved and nurtured typically grow into healthy, well-adjusted adults.
- Share religion, faith and values. Sharing the same faith beliefs and values plays a significant role in family health.
- Support community connectedness. Families who are well-connected in the community and know where to find help in times of need appear to be healthier than those who are disconnected.
The more of these characteristics a family has, the more likely they are to be resilient in difficult times. Healthy families find ways to adapt, adjust and stick together as a team no matter what life hands them.