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How to strengthen family relationships

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There are many ways to define a family, but they all have one common idea: caring. Whether a particular family is a nuclear family, a stepfamily, a single-parent family, or an empty-nest family, it usually consists of related people who care about each other. Regardless of type, all families also need to be nurtured and strengthened from time to time.

Here are some suggestions for improving and strengthening relationships in your family.
What Makes a Family Strong and Successful?
There are at least five “L’s” which contribute to strong family relationships.
Read more after the cut...

Learning—Families are where we learn values, skills, and behavior. Strong families manage and control their learning experiences. They establish a pattern of home life. They select appropriate television programs. They guide their children into the world outside the home. They do not let social forces rule their family life. They involve themselves in neighborhood, school, government, church, and business in ways that support their family values. Strong families teach by example and learn through experience as they explain and execute their values.
Loyalty—Strong families have a sense of loyalty and devotion toward family members. The family sticks together. They stand by each other during times of trouble. They stand up for each other when attacked by someone outside the family. Loyalty builds through sickness and health, want and good fortune, failure and success, and all the things the family faces. The family is a place of shelter for individual family members. They also learn a sense of give and take in the family, which helps prepare them for the necessary negotiations in other relationships.
Love is at the heart of the family. All humans have the need to love and to be loved; the family is normally the place where love is expressed. Love is the close personal blending of physical and mental togetherness. It includes privacy, intimacy, sharing, belonging, and caring. The atmosphere of real love is one of honesty, understanding, patience, and forgiveness. Loving families share activities and express a great deal of gratitude for one another. Love takes time, affection, and a positive attitude.
Laughter is good family medicine. Humor is an escape valve for family tension. Through laughter we learn to see ourselves honestly and objectively. Building a strong family is serious business, but if taken too seriously, family life can become very tense. Laughter balances our efforts and gives us a realistic view of things. Laughing together builds up a family. Laughing at each other divides a family. Families that learn to use laughter in a positive way can release tensions, gain a clearer view, and bond relationships.
Leadership is essential. Family members, usually the adults, must assume responsibility for leading the family. If no one accepts this vital role, the family will weaken. Each family needs its own special set of rules and guidelines. These rules are based on the family members’ greatest understanding of one another, not forces. The guidelines pass along from the adults to the children by example, with firmness and fairness. Strong families can work together to establish their way of life, allowing children to have a voice in decision making and enforcing rules. However, in the initial stages and in times of crisis, adult family members must get the family to work together.

Life Patterns of Strong Families
In studies conducted in the United States and around the world several characteristics of strong families were found. These qualities are:
Commitment; members of strong families are devoted to the well-being and happiness of the other members. They value family unity.
Appreciation; it is important for members of strong families show and talk about their appreciation for one another.
Communication; Members of strong families spend a lot of time talking with each other. They talk about the small, trivial things as well as the deep, important issues of life. Communication is the lifeblood of relationships
Time together; Strong families spend time—quality time in large quantities—with each other.
Spiritual wellness; whether they attend formal religious services or ceremonies or not, strong family members have a sense of a greater good or power in life, and that belief gives them strength and purpose.
Coping ability; members of strong families are able to view stress or crisis as an opportunity to grow and learn. They have good coping skills. A history of problem-solving increases our confidence that we can deal with most things that comes our way.
Credit: Happyfamily.com

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