According to the Free Merriam-Webster On-line Dictionary, there are countless definitions of family. Perhaps, one definition that most could agree on is that a family is a group of people united by certain convictions or a common connection.
Don’t let the pressures of this hectic and ever-changing holiday season (or any of life’s changes for that matter) affect a positive family balance. Try to make the most of your family relationships and build meaningful traditions. Traditions are the glue, the true and lasting bond that unite families with a sense of belonging, continuity, and routine that family members can depend on year after year, generation after generation.
If you don’t have any family traditions…don’t get overwhelmed.
Suzanna Smith, Associate Professor, Human Development and Family Life, Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences, University of Florida, provides a great publication that lists characteristics that build strong and resilient families. (Publication #FCS2057)
Listed are her ideas plus an example to get you started.
1. Focus on commitment to each other. Committed families provide a sense of safety and security that say we belong. Designate time exclusively for family.
2. Respect values, physical, spiritual, and emotional wellness. A family environment is complex and involves many factors. As a family, decide what to do to help promote your family values. Board games anyone?
3. Encourage effective family communication. Practice positive speaking. Communication is not just talking. Practice a flexible approach to listening, talking, and reacting. Positive speaking focuses on the things we value most. Example…. “I love that you are a considerate person.”
4. Promote appreciation of all family members. Celebrate the wonderful qualities of those people you care about most. In the words of Mother Teresa, “There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”
5. Providing meaningful and sufficient time together. An effective way to build the skill of time together is to learn to share stories about your family. These stories can be a means of conveying the caring and tradition of your family system. Try eating family meals together, without distraction, as often as possible.
6. Offering effective strategies to deal with stress. Learn to recognize the signs of tension and do something positive to deal with it. Physical activity of any kind is shown to work wonders here. Go for a walk, get up and stretch, or just remove yourself from the situation.
Make time this season to review or build some new, strong, and resilient family traditions of your own. And remember, there are no rules and there is no “right” way to do this. Building family strengths (traditions) helps families solve problems, adapt to change, and have fun!
For more information, visit EDIS – the Electronic Data Information Source of UF/IFAS Extension, a collection of information on topics relevant to you. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/departments/fycs.html