You can’t live without them and, sometimes, it’s jolly hard to live with them! Whatever the nature of our family and relationships, regularly taking a moment to reflect on what family means to us and the type of family culture we want to belong to, is really useful. If there’s a prevailing mood of cooperation and respect within your crew, that’s great! If you feel there’s room for improvement, that’s great too because now is the perfect time to begin making a few subtle changes.
Now is the perfect time to shape the future of your family
Here are some suggestions for shaping a family culture you’ll want to live with.
F – frame your future
Have a vision for how you want your family to ‘look’ in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years from now. Talk about the type of family you want to be. Let everyone know they’re part of a great family. Have traditions – simple, silly ones that define your crew. Everyone loves to be part of something special.
A – acknowledge what is going well
Tell others when they’re doing the right thing, especially what you’d like them to do more of. Little statements like “I noticed _____” or “Thank you for _____” go a long way towards creating a great family culture. Remember to acknowledge yourself too. Don’t wait for everyone else to tell you you’re doing a good job. Creating a new culture isn’t for the faint hearted!
M – meet to munch
Meet to munch together at least 5 times a week! Eating together is statistically proven to play an important part in building great family culture. Making time for sharing food as part of your family’s culture is not only a smart way to promote healthy eating, the time spent around the table is an important opportunity to check up on each other, to connect and to learn the art of great conversation. No devices allowed.
I – imperfection is perfect
You’re imperfect, I’m imperfect, we’re all imperfect. When we embrace this fact we recognise that this is really perfect; we all have room for growth. The ones we love are also still growing and they won’t always get things right or please us all the time. The opposite is also true; we can’t and won’t always please everyone, no matter how hard we try. This is an important key to enjoying better connection.
L – listen carefully
Respectful listening, full of care, keeps communication open. When others feel ‘heard’ and ‘understood’ there is less need to be ‘loud’. If there’s conflict, recognise that someone is feeling unheard and try the listen, listen, listen approach. The real message is often found by watching body language and by listening ‘between the lines’.
Y – yield to prevent collisions
If you didn’t yield to other traffic on the road there would soon be a collision with all the mess to clean up afterward. It’s the same when we find ourselves colliding with the ones we love. If it’s not going to matter in 5 years (not linked to your core values) it may not be worth locking horns over. What we resist persists. Try out a new perspective or a different way of approaching a problem area to yield different results.
It’s never too late to enjoy better relationships and to live ‘happily ever after’.
Changing a family culture can be hard work but it’s so worthwhile. If your family of origin didn’t model cooperation and respect, that doesn’t mean you can’t. If necessary, reach out for quality support and practical education; it can transform the future of every family.