Building Good Family Relationships

There’s a huge value in good family relationships. Good family relationships help your children feel secure and loved. They can help you feel good, too. If you feel your family relationships are falling short, it’s easy to improve them by focusing on care and communication.

Importance of Family Relationships

Good family relationships are enjoyable for their own sake. It just feels good to be part of a warm and loving family! But there are many more reasons why good family relationships are important.

  • They make children feel loved and secure. This allows them to feel safe and free to explore their world.
  • They can help overcome difficulties with children’s learning, behavior, eating and sleeping.
  • They make it easier for your family to solve problems and resolve conflict in all relationships, inside the family and outside.
  • They help you and your children respect differences of opinion. This helps your children develop more independence.
  • They give children the tools they’ll need when they grow up and start building their own relationships.

It’s always worth looking at the relationships you share with your children and other family members, and thinking about what you can do to improve them.

As a parent, you strive to do the best you can for your children. Most likely you’re also juggling work, friends, household management and more. But even for the busiest parents, there are plenty of ways to help develop good family relationships.

Good family relationships are an important part of strong families. Strong families grow from love, security, communication, connection–and, of course, rules and routines, too.

Quality Time and Family Relationships

Quality family time can happen anywhere. It’s about making the most of the time you spend together. Here are some ways you can make quality time happen in your family.

  • Use everyday time together to talk and share a laugh. For example, a meal together or a routine commute in the car can be a great time to catch up on the day.
  • Plan one-on-one chats with each family member. Even just a short conversation before bed can go a long way towards strengthening an individual relationship.
  • Set aside time for your partner. Explain to your children that it’s good for your relationship with your partner to have quality time alone together.
  • Do regular, fun things together as a family. This can be as simple as a family soccer game at the park on Saturdays, or a family pizza night each week.
  • Make decisions together about what to do for special events, such as birthdays, holiday celebrations and vacations. Make sure even young children are part of these decisions.

Positive Communication and Family Relationships

Positive communication is about making the time to listen to each other, listening without judgment, and being open to expressing your own thoughts and feelings.

When you have positive communication in your family, it helps everybody feel understood, respected and valued. This strengthens all of the interpersonal relationships. Try the following positive communication ideas to strengthen your family relationships.

  • When your child or partner wants to talk, stop what you’re doing and listen with full attention. Give people time to express their points of view or feelings. Sometimes, though, you might have to respect their need not to talk, especially if they’re teenagers.
  • Be open to talking about everything, even difficult things, such as admitting to mistakes.
  • Make sure kids feel free to express all kinds of feelings, including anger, joy, frustration, fear and anxiety. Remember that talking about feeling angry is different from getting angry.
  • Be ready for spontaneous conversations. For example, younger children often like to talk through their feelings when they’re in the bath or as they’re getting into bed.
  • Plan for difficult conversations, especially with teenagers. Families can find difficult to talk about sex, drugs, alcohol, academic difficulties, and finances. Those conversations will be easier if you’ve thought through your feelings and values on these issues before your children bring them up.
  • Show appreciation, love and encouragement through words.
  • Communicate discipline with patience, love, and understanding.

Positive non-verbal communication
Not all communication happens in words, so it’s important to pay attention to the feelings that your children and partner are expressing non-verbally. For example, your teenage child might not want to talk to you, but might still come looking for the comfort of cuddles sometimes!

It’s also important to be aware of the non-verbal messages you send. For example, hugs, kisses and eye contact can send the message that you want to be close to your children. But a grumpy tone of voice or a frown when you’re doing something together might send the message that you don’t want to be there with them.

Teamwork and Family Relationships

When your family is working as a team, everyone feels cared for, supported and able to contribute. It’s easier to work as a team when everyone understands where they stand, so it helps to have clear expectations, limits and boundaries.

You can encourage teamwork in some of these ways:

  • Share household chores. Even young children like the feeling of belonging that comes from making a contribution.
  • Include children in decisions about things like family activities, rules and holidays. Give everyone, including young children, a chance to have their say. Family meetings can be a good way to do this.
  • Let children make some of their own decisions. The decisions you allow will depend on your children’s abilities and maturity, and the boundaries you’ve set.
  • Create family rules that clearly state how your family members are expected to treat and care for each other. For example, “In our family, we speak respectfully to each other.” Rules like this help everyone get along better, and make life together more peaceful.
  • Work together to solve problems. This involves staying calm while listening, considering options, respecting others’ opinions, finding constructive solutions and working out compromises.

Appreciating Each Other

Caring for each other is at the heart of good family relationships. Here are some ways you might be able to do this.

  • Take an interest in each other’s lives. For example, make time to go to each other’s sporting events, drama performances or art shows .
  • Include everyone in conversation when you’re talking about the day’s events. For example, ask each family member what was the highlight of their day.
  • Share family stories and memories. This can help children appreciate things that aren’t obvious, or that they’ve forgotten.
  • Acknowledge each other’s differences, talents and abilities, and use each other’s strengths. For example, if you praise and thank your teenage child for listening to a younger sibling reading, he’ll begin to see himself as helpful and caring.

Good family relationships will help all family members feel safe and connected to each other. Families with good relationships will be able to support each other and positive and respectful ways. Family members will share common goals and work together to reach those goals.