Liking Your Family
Have you ever said that you “love” a particular family member, but you don’t necessarily “like” them? While loving your family is important, enjoying them and liking them is as well. In the book, Parenting at Its Best: How to Raise Children with a Passion for Life, author Fred A. Hartley III says, “You show me a healthy family, and I will show you a family that enjoys being together.”
Hartley characterizes a family that likes each other is one that schedules time and vacations together, has fun, plays games, enjoys hobbies and recreation together, maintains family traditions (especially on holidays), holds long conversations, celebrates and laughs together, and looks forward to getting home to each other. Hartley says, “I-like-you families are healthy families. Mutual respect, joy and security characterize these homes. They are established on five building blocks.” Here are those 5 building blocks.
Hartley says, “If you want to have fun and enjoy each other, it is helpful to have a catalyst, a rally point, a reason to celebrate.” Look for the things in your daily lives that can be turned into a celebration. Hartley gives the following examples: good grades, a tough problem solved, a completed project, a business success, new friendships, a paid debt, a raise in salary, acceptance into college, a planned vacation or any milestone event. If your family is uncomfortable simply celebrating together in a fun, light way, consider inviting friends over who are skilled at conversation and entertaining. The important concept is to learn to enjoy looking at the positives in life together.
Look for shared interests with family members and engage in a hobby together. At the very least, encourage your family members in their own hobbies even if you don’t understand them. Examples of hobbies include collections (baseball cards, dolls, seashells), crafts (woodworking, carpentry, sewing), trades (computers, auto mechanics), reading, music, drama and movies.
“Every tradition is like a cord that binds the family closer together,” says Hartley. Anything can become a tradition, whether it is a particular game you play after dinner, an annual sporting event you attend together, or a favorite restaurant you go to for celebrations. Other examples include family recipes (such as Grandma’s Christmas cookies), annual hobby projects or vacations, a holiday party or even a springtime gardening day.
Vacations can be a great chance to reconnect with your family and form some vacation-specific traditions. For example, if your family vacations at the beach, you can have a traditional seashell-finding contest. Or if you go camping, you can hold marshmallow-roasting contests. Create a list of favorite travel games to play on the way. Make the most of your time with your family on vacations.
Hartley says, “Healthy people laugh and healthy families laugh together. They encourage laughter. They look for laughter. Wholesome, clean humor is good for the soul.” If you think your family may need some help developing their humor, purchase some joke books or funny movies. Be able to laugh at yourself.
Tell us! What is your favorite thing to do with your family?
This article is based on the book, Parenting at Its Best: How to Raise Children with a Passion for Life, by Fred A. Hartley III.