Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Building Supportive Family Environments

Many adults want to build a supportive family environment, but they don’t know where to start. Here are some basic principles that families can use to strengthen their family relationships and provide a supportive atmosphere that helps all family members thrive.

Spend time together
Eat together, play together, walk together, go to church together, carpool together, learn a new skill together. Time together creates memories and a foundation for deeper relationships.

Connect with each child.
Find some special time to bond with your child each day. It can be as simple as sharing stories on the sofa for 5 minutes after school or reading together, or shooting basketball together. Find out what your child enjoys and take time to connect.

Encourage all family members to share their thoughts and feelings.
Give one another your full attention when you communicate. That means turning away from the phone, internet or television momentarily.
Focus on listening to the other person without thinking about what your response will be.
Let the other person finish before you react or offer advice.
Use equalizing “I” messages instead of pointed “You” messages.

Learn to fight fairly.
Stay focused on the behavior or problem at hand. Never resort to violence – take some time to cool down if you need to. Look for creative solutions together.

Build trust.
Share responsibilities and chores. Reinforce the importance of trustworthiness. Practice saying “I’m sorry” and “Please forgive me”. Take responsibility for your behaviors – both good and bad.

These ideas are from an article by Patricia Tanner Nelson, Ed.D. Read the full article at http://ag.udel.edu/extension/fam/FM/issue/strongfamily.htm