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Expressing Appreciation and Affection in Your Family

A couple of decades ago, a couple of researchers with the University of Nebraska and University of Alabama came up with the American Family Strengths Inventory. With this tool, they studied over 24,000 family members in the United States and around the world and discovered six key traits of strong families. One of those traits is expressing appreciation and affection to each other.

Think about how you show appreciation and express affection with each of your family members. How is it shown or expressed to them?

Take a moment to consider each of these indicators of appreciation and affection in your family. Is it a Strength or an area for Potential Growth?

• We let each other know that we appreciate them.
• We enjoy helping each other.
• We are good at keeping our promises to each other.
• We like to show affection to each other.
• We feel close to each other.
• We like to be kind to each other.
• We like to hug each other.
• We enjoy being thoughtful toward each other.
• We wait for each other without complaining.
• We give each other enough time to complete necessary tasks.
• We grow stronger because we love each other.

These positive behaviors demonstrate positive emotional bonds. Researcher Dr. John Gottman at the University of Washington found that it takes a ratio of 5:1 of positive to negative interactions to maintain happy relationships. But as Stephen Covey taught us, we need to make these positive interactions a habit. We need to practice daily – a hug, a kiss on the check, a simple note stuck on a mirror or in a lunchbox, time playing a game, hanging out, one-on-one. Our children will learn to express appreciation and affection as we teach them by example.

DeFrain, J., ed., (2006). Family Treasures, University of Nebraska – Lincoln.