Improving Family Relations
Every family is its own unique combination of people and personalities. Even though they come in all shapes and sizes, healthy families have some commonalities. A healthy family is comprised of people who love each other and are able to respect each other’s similarities and differences. Healthy families also know how to compromise, and they are fiercely resilient; they bounce back after crisis and periods of prolonged stress.
Negative Coping Strategies
Obviously, not all families have healthy relationships. Some members incorporate negative strategies for coping with stress. Some examples are distancing, overdoing/underdoing, focusing on a child, or jumping into conflict. These negative ways of managing stress harm the family dynamic:
Distancing- This unhealthy strategy occurs when family members avoid conversations together because they are concerned about potential conflict. They stop sharing their thoughts and feelings and fail to spend real time together.
Overdoing/underdoing- With this negative coping method, one or more family members begin to assume the responsibilities of others. When this happens, the remaining members decrease their efforts. Family members can easily become stuck in this imbalance of responsibility.
Focusing on a child- To avoid conflict, some families will simply focus on a child instead. When severe stress or fighting begins, children are usually the most vulnerable in the household. Therefore, parents will focus their attention solely on that child to calm things down. Their intentions might be good, but often the child reacts to this intense pressure and increased attention. These children will typically begin to act out or develop physical or emotional symptoms.
Conflict- A final negative coping mechanism is conflict itself. Some families will start an all-out war when they’re stressed, engaging in yelling and emotional abuse. The smallest disagreement could set someone off, creating a hostile environment.
Tips to Improve Family Relations
There are many positive ways to manage stress and handle conflict. The following strategies for communication skills, relational values, and personal and family responsibilities provide simple solutions for improving family dynamics:
Personal and Family Responsibilities
The success of a healthy family largely comes down to being together. When you make time for one another, you communicate that you care with more than just your words. Make time to have fun and celebrate each other’s victories. Listen to one another’s stories, thoughts, and feelings. Make memories and laugh together. When working toward the common goal of a healthy family, everyone has a shared interest in success.