8 secrets to have a happy family

The definition of “family” has become more diverse, and your family may look different than other families. Whoever makes up your family, though, there are habits happy families share, and habits unhappy families share.
The definition of “family” has become more diverse, and your family may look different than other families. Whoever makes up your family, though, there are habits happy families share, and habits unhappy families share.

“Family” is an interesting word simply because of how flexible it has become. Your family might look entirely different from the family that lives next door or down the street. Your family might consist of eight people, while your friend's family consists of three. Yet, with all these variables and this flexibility, there are still commonalities between happy families and those who are generally not.

What makes happy families happy?

These qualities have been identified within happy families:

Communication. Placing a priority on communication within your family is critical, especially with your children. Making sure your communication is loving, reciprocal, and patient is very important. Children do not often have the words to describe how they feel. Knowing that an adult in their life listens to them can make a world of difference. Opening up your life to them can make them feel more comfortable doing the same.

Ways to enact this sort of two-way communication are:

  • Be as honest as possible and encourage your family members to do the same
  • Listen to your family with the fullest attention possible
  • Tell your family how you feel and what you think in an honest yet loving way
  • Let your family know when you appreciate what they said or the way they acted
  • Make space for both negative and positive thoughts or feelings
  • Put in the effort to work through issues or problems that come up
  • Allow for there to be joy and laughter

What makes happy families happy? (continued)

Quality time. Spending quality time with your family is vital. Try to put some time aside a couple of nights a week to spend together as a family. Participating in activities together during this time can take the pressure off of you or your family members. It can also provide you and your family with a new shared interest or hobby. 

Some ways to spend quality time with your family are:

  • Make and eat dinner together
  • Go on family outings
  • Invent unique family traditions for things like birthdays or other special occasions
  • Figure out ways that you can all share joy together

Decision-making. When children feel involved in the family decision-making process, they feel more involved in the family as a whole. This is especially true of older children who often feel the need to test boundaries and push limits. Sitting down with your older children and negotiating boundaries rather than just imposing restrictions can foster a sense of togetherness. It also can teach your children to ask for what they want and attempt to live in harmony with their loved ones.

Support through hard times. While being together as a family during happy times is essential, it is also vital to be a comforting force for your family during difficult times. If a family member dies or there is another family tragedy, lending your support and love is very important.

Acceptance. It is essential to understand that a family consists of individuals who offer their own unique contributions to the group. A happy family is not a family in which everyone thinks, acts, feels, or behaves the same as each other. One of the hallmarks of a happy family is that the entire family accepts each other for who they are as individuals.

Some practical examples of what this looks like are:

  • Actively accepting the difference between you and your family members
  • Allowing for there to be space
  • Sometimes agreeing to disagree on each other’s points of view
  • Forgiving each other
  • Taking ownership of yourself and your family taking ownership of themselves

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What makes happy families happy? (continued)

Resilience and flexibility. Happy families are not always happy. Try to practice resilience with your family if things don’t go as planned. Perhaps your life doesn’t look the way you pictured, or your special family outing has been halted. Enjoy the small moments and try to be flexible and pivot as needed. If there is an issue, you must accept it. If you and your family need help in resolving a conflict or problem, make sure to reach out for help with a professional mediator mental health professional.

Take care of yourself. Parents especially can find that they spend all of their time caring for their families. This can lead to burnout and resentment, which ultimately does not make you a present or caring parent/family member. Accept the fact that you have needs as well and that you need time and space to take care of yourself.

What makes unhappy families unhappy?

The traits that unhappy families share are:

  • Uneven power distribution. This happens when one or more people have all or none of the power in the household.
  • Cracking under conflict. Often unhappy families are families who are unable to remain peaceful while attempting to resolve a conflict.
  • Disrespect. When the individuals in a family don’t feel respected by their family members, feelings of togetherness are challenging to come by. 
  • Breakdown of communication. Not listening to each other, disrespecting each other’s points of view, or overly relying on negative communications.

Unhappy families can become happy families, if they choose to come together and communicate, accept one another, respect one another, and practice patience and resilience.

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Medically Reviewed on 10/7/2021
References
BetterHealth: "Happy Families."

Family Lives: "Your family."