New Year Resolutions For The Family
Dear Dr. LeCrone:
Our family has decided to make strengthening our family unit our New Year resolution. Do you have any suggestions for us?
-A reader in Ohio
Your resolution is one that many families need. I have written on this topic in the past, and I feel that the information remains helpful.
• We will treat each other with love and respect, emphasizing the unique contribution of each family member.
This bond of love and respect builds resilience in each family member. Helping each member of the family identify and internalize common, healthy values is the bedrock of a strong, well-adjusted family. If the leaders within the family are not setting good examples, then it is unrealistic to expect the rest of the family to adopt desirable values.
• We will demonstrate love for each other.
How often do you tell other family members that you love them? When your children are asked if you love them, do they say, “I think so, but I’m not sure,” or “they tell me, but they don’t show me.”? Reserving affection is appropriate in many situations, but not often within the family. Hugging, holding hands, and kissing are positive demonstrations of love for family members.
• We will make a commitment to communicate more effectively.
Numerous problems arise within families because of false assumptions regarding each other’s thoughts. Practice active communication, including discouraging outside distractions and giving full attention to each other when talking.
• We will examine our priorities.
Family must be first, with career, friends, and hobbies then falling in place. Guard against rationalizations and pressures from outside the family.
• We will strive for a healthy balance between interdependence on one another and independence as the young leave the nest and start their own families.
Discouraging family members from developing healthy relationships can cause serious psychological adjustment problems. Make learning to relate within the family the basis for relating outside the family. If care and concern for others have been taught in the home, they will extend to the new family. Single parents with assistance from friends and family can also develop this balance.
I believe that strong, healthy, productive societies are based on strong family orientation. Individuals, too, in my opinion, have a better chance of being emotionally well adjusted and balanced if healthy psychological development has taken place within the family.
Harold H. Lecrone, Jr., Ph.D. Copyright © 2008