As Published on New Straits Times – 16 August 2015
There are many ways to strengthen family relationship, write Jaime Shine
What does family mean to you? For most people it is the greatest source of joy and happiness, the reason to live in this demanding world today. A source of comfort and belonging that none can replace. On the flip side, it mirrors some of our deepest pains and infliction of unhappiness. We have put them in such a deep place in our hearts that when friction arises, it hurts the most and causes the greatest amount of misery.
Despite its importance, most families are not aware of the efforts it takes to maintain positive and harmonious relationships within their family. Unfortunately these skills are not taught in schools and unless you are very self aware of your relationship wellbeing, chances are, you will pick up all the traits from your parents and become them or be a rebellion version of them.
These principles are not new, but rather in our technologically inclined society today where the phone has become your best friend and family, it is just missing. So here are key values every family can instill into their lives to create a harmonious and fulfilling relationship for all.
We all love our family. Yes we do. Even through the days when they are a pain. Feeling the love for our family is the best value you can instill in yourself and your children. But there is a difference between love and responsibility. Love brings forth the wanting to show and continuously engage in giving and receiving love naturally. However responsibility is fueled by duty. Take a moment to ask yourself, when you are doing something for your family is it out of love or responsibility. When you pay attention to what drives your motivation, you will be able to switch it around. For some, love does not come naturally, instead responsibility does.
An old philosophy suggests that respect is earned, not given. I would say, show respect first and you will receive respect. There are a few keys areas to demonstrate that respect for fellow family members and the most important are: to respect a family member’s need for space and growth, entitlement for an opinion, responsibility for one’s decisions and actions, respecting someone’s time and presence.
Perhaps one of the hardest things for parents to do is to stand back and allow your child to make decisions thinking that it may be a costly mistake. I encourage you to stand back and allow their opinions, choices and decisions to take form. You may think that it will safeguard them from harm by wanting to protect them, however, this growth phrase of making decisions and learning from mistakes inevitably needs to happen for them to grow.
Practise allowing your child or family member to go through what they need to go through to learn, be supportive instead of discouraging no matter what you think of it. Shower advises, but leave the ultimate decision to them. You will see how they will blossom out of their experiences through time.
Have you notice that we can be extra kind and courteous to a stranger on the street yet take it for granted to be courteous to our own family? It can be the tone we use or forgetting to say “Please”, “Thank you” or “You’re welcome” regularly, thinking that they wont mind and will understand. Perhaps feeling a little entitled and expecting our family to do things for us anyway.
A little kindness really goes a long way. Being kind to each other fosters deep bonds and love within yourself and for others. Practise being courteous again, and in time, it will be reciprocated.
The most important thing for deep family bond boils down to communication. So many disruptions in relationships happen when there is a communication breakdown. Feelings that needed to be expressed are not shown or spoken about and the truth is hidden and resentment harbors.
As a rule of thumb always say what you mean and mean what you say. Be honest and truthful in your communication and always be tactful when expressing sensitive issues. It may not be easy initially to always speak the truth and express exactly how you feel but through practise it will get easier.
PRACTISE MAKES PROGRESS
Here are practical steps you can do to create better family harmony now.
Show your Love
Practise showing love and gratitude to each other, especially the little things and say it when you feel it.
Acknowledge someone’s presence in the room, allow others to their opinions and decision making and be supportive.
Be kind all the time
Mind your please, thank you’s and apologise when you need to. We all make mistakes, owning up to them teaches and shows great courage.
Always communicate your feelings truthfully and be there to listen when someone does. Your attention and presence makes them feel heard.