Families come in many shapes and sizes. Some families have one parent, some have two. Children may live full time in one household or divide their time between two parents’ homes. There may be one child, several siblings, or a blending of two families under one roof.
Regardless of its composition, a strong family unit provides a foundation where children feel safe and secure, where they learn about themselves and the world, and where they begin to understand how to love, to share, and to be a contributing member of society.
There are a number of characteristics that strong families have in common. By taking time to focus on these factors, you can help strengthen your own family’s bond.
Spending time together
We live in busy times. Children are often scheduled in a variety of activities, and parents are pulled in many directions. Be sure to set aside time to spend together as a family, getting to know and enjoy each other. Mealtimes, game nights or family meetings are good opportunities to have fun and reconnect as a family.
Showing love and appreciation
Be generous with hugs and let your children know how much you love them. Make it a habit to express your thanks and gratitude. Make communication among family members a priority, and help your children understand that they can talk to you about anything and everything.
Establishing routines and rituals
Routines are the backbone of daily life. A predictable schedule helps children feel confident and comfortable in knowing what comes next. Rituals are ongoing traditions, big or small, that a family does to make each other feel special and to make memories. You may have daily rituals, like reading stories at bedtime, or rituals that happen less frequently, like holiday traditions.
As a parent, think of the values you want to instil in your children, and model these traits in your own life. Kindness, respect, generosity and persistence are examples of values you may want your children to develop. Know that your children are always watching you, and that your actions speak much louder than words.
All families face challenges, and there is no such thing as a perfect family. However, when your family has a strong, solid foundation, you are able to weather the storms of life together.
Shawna Munro works at the Elspeth Reid Family Resource Centre, a facility of Child and Family Services of Western Manitoba that offers parenting information and support.
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