New Year's Resolutions for the Family
Many individuals begin each new year with resolutions of change and personal involvement. For many people losing weight- especially after Thanksgiving to New Year’s gastronomic bingers- is on the high list!
But let me ask those of you with families to consider another kind of resolution that will benefit the entire family. Resolutions for improvement within the family unit can best be accomplished if the family will engage in dialogue and discussion to give each member an opportunity to express his or her ideas and needs. Some suggestions for such resolutions are:
• We will treat each other with love and respect emphasizing the unique contribution of each to the family unit. We will commit to making this respect and love a bond that gives the family strength to withstand the pressures that come from troubled time and society we live in. Helping each member of the family identify and internalize common, healthful values is the bedrock of a strong, healthy family.
If the leaders within the family- the parent or parents- are not setting good examples, then expecting the rest of the family to adopt desirable values is unrealistic.
• We will demonstrate love for each other. How often do you tell other family members that you love them? When I ask children if their parents love them, they often state, “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 within the family. Hugging, holding hands, and kissing are demonstrations of love within a family.
• We will make a commitment to communicate more effectively. Many problems arise within families because of false assumptions regarding each other’s thoughts. Practice active communication. Discourage outside distractions. Give full attention. Let each person express his or her needs. Then strive for solutions with a spirit of compromise.
• We will examine our priorities. Family must be first, with career, friends, hobbies falling in place after it. Guard against rationalizations, pressures from those outside the family and erosion produced by powerful contemporary forces suggesting other alternatives besides the family.
• 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 has been taught in the home, it will extend to the new family. Single parents with assistance from relatives can make family a priority.
I believe that strong, healthy, productive societies have at their base 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.
Copyright c 1992 Harold H. LeCrone, Jr., Ph.D.