The family as a social unit has undoubtedly been on the decline in the past few decades. The increasing number of single parent households, increased divorce rates, and the growing gap between generations has led the family to move to the periphery of an individual’s social life, rather than its center. Truth is, today, you will have to actually work together and work quite hard to build strong, healthy family relationships.
Like any other relationship, families are built on trust. Children, teenagers and adolescents will often hide things from their parents for fear of punishment. This behavior, if encouraged, will eventually lead to their estrangement and lack of trust. It is the responsibility of the parents, therefore, to create an air of openness in the family. Kids in the family should never feel scared of sharing things with parents. As a parent, you will have to punish kids for straying out of line, but take care to not do so in a fashion that would make your kids not trust you with their secrets again.
Trust is directly tied to sharing – the crucial part of family relationships that just seems to be missing these days. All members are usually involved in their own lives, zoned out before TV or computer screens, or in their own social lives. There is too little of ‘family time’ and too much of ‘me time’. Group activities such as dinner, a movie night, a family vacation, therefore, have to be promoted to encourage sharing.
Respect (or the lack of it) is another reason why family relationships sometimes go sour. You should draw a firm line beyond which your kids shouldn’t go, and you should draw this line as early as possible. While a family should be open, there must be some sense of hierarchy too. Teach your kids to respect their elders, no matter their flaws, and teach the elders to love the kids likewise. A family built on trust, love, and respect will always maintain strong bonds.
Finally, parents must try and foster strong relations between siblings. Too often, siblings don’t get along with each other, largely due to the parents lack of intervention. Elder siblings must be taught to care for and love their younger brothers/sisters, and the younger siblings must be given a lesson in respecting their elder brothers/sisters. Only when the siblings get along will you build a strong family.