Having a solid family unit is important, and in order to achieve one, families must create a strong family foundation. How do families develop strong foundations to build upon and carry them through when the times get hard?
How Do Families Develop Strong Foundations?
Every family is different, meaning each family's approach to creating a strong foundation will vary. While everyone will take a unique approach to foundational creation, infusing their family with their own values and beliefs, there are some key factors in family foundational development that most families engage in.
It is hard to stay present all the time. Parents today live in a world where constant multitasking is the norm. In creating strong family foundations, try to be present when your family is speaking with you. Put down devices, attempt to not think about the many things that you should be currently doing, and actively listen to what the people you love are trying to tell you. When kids are playing, spend time in their presence, doing nothing but focusing on them. During meals, enjoy the conversation and company, instead of focusing on cleaning counters and washing dishes.
Celebrate Everyone's Achievements Equally and Together
If your family includes many people and children, there will always be some kind of achievement to celebrate. Parents strive to make achievers feel special. They might take one kid out for a treat because he got straight A's, or go out to dinner with another kid for hitting the game-winning home run. It is important to celebrate family members' accomplishments, but make sure to include all members of the family in rejoicing so that everyone shares in the special moments and achievements.
Respect Each Other
Family members must respect one another in order to have a strong foundation.
- Focus on positive and not negative
- Listen and consider other family members' points of view
- Clean up after yourself and be responsible for your belongings and space
- Try to be a part of family members' interests and hobbies
- Practice politeness
- Learn to say sorry
Set the Example for Children
If you expect your children to act in a certain manner, you will have to model behaviors for them. Families with strong foundations will choose the behaviors and values that are important to them, and model those for younger family members. You can not expect kids to be respectful, communicate effectively, or be present in other people's lives if you yourself are not.
You are your children's' parents, not their best friend. While you will want to create a relationship with kids that entails many qualities of friendships, it is important to also set boundaries. Setting boundaries is crucial to child development as well as to family foundational setting and building strong families.
Create Consistency and Expectation
Consistency in families is key. Having consistency doesn't mean that you do the same thing each and every day, but it does mean that family members can learn to expect certain rituals within the family unit. You might not always eat the same meals or even hold them at the same time, but your family tries to dine together several times a week. Movie night might have to be shifted to different days of the week because of conflicting schedules, but you can still count on it happening at one point or another.
Families with strong foundations learn to openly and effectively communicate with each other. Communicating effectively and positively helps families in many ways:
- Tighten bonds
- Learn to trust each other
- Solve problems
- Offer support to one another
- Exhibit mutual understanding and respect
Create Safety in the Family
For a family to have a sound foundation, there has to be safety within the family unit. Strong families create stability and safety, where everyone feels secure, loved, and respected. All family members can count on this physical and emotional security even when the times get tough.
Work Together for the Common Good
Having family members all work towards the collective, common good helps strengthen the family foundations. Sure, family members will all seek out some element of independence and autonomy from each other, but at everyone's core, they put family first. Families with solid foundations are not self-serving and selfish, they put the family needs before their own and are concerned about the overall health and strength of the entire family unit.
Create Family Values, Goals, and Traditions
Families with solid foundations have a shared value system, family goals, and unique traditions that are celebrated and respected. Identify values important to you and find ways to make those values a part of children's' lives. Focus on a few core family traditions and interweave them into your family engagements to build stronger connections.
Consciously Spend Time Together
All sitting around the family room staring at your devices is not exactly active engagement. Create time and space for you and your family members to spend time together without daily distraction. Plan outings, vacations, or device-free time to connect with the ones who hold most dear.
Activities to Encourage Family Foundation Building
Creating strong family foundations doesn't happen overnight. There are simple family activities that parents can infuse into their family culture regularity to help create and strengthen family foundations and bonds.
- Cook and dine together
- Attend religious ceremonies
- Hold a family book club
- Have family movie night once a week
- Host family game nights
- Have everyone be a part of major family projects (renovations, cleaning, gardening, painting)
- Be active together (evening walks, family bike rides, hiking)
Connect for a Strong Foundation
Simple activities done over time will deepen your family's connection to one another, solidifying their foundation and making the family unit stronger.