You’ve known for some time that things didn’t feel right in your family life.
Nothing obvious. Just a feeling.
Maybe you are worrying too much. Or perhaps you are subconsciously picking up on signs that there are problems with your family’s “ship-of-state.”
But who’s perfect, right? And from some of the stuff you see on TV, your family life seems almost angelic.
Still, you wonder. “Is my family strong?,” “Am I doing enough to keep us strong?,” “Are my relationships with my partner and kids as good as they could be? As they ought to be?,” “Are we bonding like a family should? Or is there a barrier, or superficial character to our relationships that could be improved on?”
Well, you’re right. There are no perfect families.
At least not as compared to some idealized, 1950’s standard. However, a family where all of the members feel loved and safe to grow and thrive as the person they truly are is as close to perfect as any family can be.
Is that your family?
If you just aren’t sure whether your family is in smooth water or is heading for the falls, consider the following 6 signs that your family may be in for a rough ride. The more of these that are present, the more serious and imminent the danger.
The 6 signs that your family life is in trouble are:
1.) Little interest by members in doing things as a family;
2.) Superficial understanding by individuals of what is really important to other family members;
3.) Parents who do not include children in decisions that effect whole family;
4.) When given a choice, kids who choose to leave home and gather elsewhere;
5.) Similar-age/sex siblings who do not hang together, but go separate ways;
6.) Partner(s) who simply don’t enjoy time with the family, or who prefer to live separate lives altogether.
Do any of these sound familiar? If so, you should put aside other family priorities for the moment and focus your creative energies on taking care of these danger signs ASAP.
Each of these 6 danger signs point to a lack of awareness and interest by each family member in other family members individually, and in the family as a unit.
This is often because members do not feel acknowledged, respected, or loved when with other members. They may feel that they are seen as a burden by the others. Or that their views do not matter. And the family may not be doing enough together that creates a bond of trust and reliance between the members.
If having a strong and loving family unit is important to you, you must focus on strengthening the bonds between the members, and the group.
Obviously, personalities clash. And sibling rivalry can get ugly. But nothing fires up sibling rivalry more than a lack of regular focused attention by the parents on each child as an individual. When a child feels secure in their relationship with each parent, the reason for the rivalry between siblings disappears.
If there is a large age difference between the children, or if you are a mixed family with step-children who simply don’t know each other very well, these can be practical barriers to family bonding as well.
The parents are the foundation, and the model, on which the family is built. If the parents don’t really enjoy each others’ company much, then they shouldn’t expect their kids to be any better. Factions may form, with some kids supporting one parent more than the other. And this sort of dynamic rips families apart.
You must have a strong partnership before you try to build a strong family. Or be prepared to build that family as a single parent, whether you are married or not.
If the partnership is strong, and feelings of love seem secure, but you still want your family to feel more bonded, consider sharing a real adventure. Something that will force each of you to rely on and trust the other. Do something that looks a bit dangerous, that is outside of most of your comfort zones, and that requires teamwork for success.
Many businesses use adventure outings to build trust and reliance among their management teams. Why shouldn’t families do the same? Perhaps, after just such and experience, you will find a sense of bonding that you never knew was possible.
The sooner that you plug these danger holes in your family ship-of-state, the more likely that the ideal family life will be yours. The sooner you build a strong bond of love and trust within your family, the sooner you will enjoy the best that family life can deliver. And you will be teaching your kids how to do the same with their own future families.
All the best,