If I had to sum up my family in one word, I would choose “togetherness”. It’s one thing we always have, no matter how scattered we are and how often we meet. I know and believe firmly that my parents and siblings love me and would support me through thick and thin, simply because of the childhood I had. We were a happy family; we were not very rich, but we had enough to get by. What there was in abundance though was love, and we thrived on it. If you ask me what the secret of our togetherness was, I would say that our parents laid the right foundation for a happy family. In general, the following principles hold good when you want to foster a happy and content family:
- Be your children’s friend: You start out as mommy and daddy, but as your child grows, you play various roles in their life. The most crucial one is that of a friend when they’re at that awkward stage between childhood and adulthood and not really sure of themselves. Unless you dissociate yourself from being a parent and a disciplinarian and focus more on supporting them and being there for them in any capacity, you could end up losing their love and/or respect.
- If you set rules, follow them yourself: You cannot have one set of rules for your children and another completely different set for you. If you insist that your kids tidy up after themselves and keep their rooms clean, do the same yourself. If you want them to eat healthy food and lead active lives, lead by example. And if you want them to get good grades and do well at school, create an environment that is conducive to learning and knowledge.
- Avoid fighting in front of your kids: One thing that affects your children’s mental health more than anything else is when they see their mom and dad fighting. The younger the child, the deeper the scars these fights leave. So as much as possible, avoid arguing and fighting when they’re around.
- Spend time together, but don’t force it: It’s always nice to spend time as a family, but when you force your children to spend time with you, you’re only creating a false sense of togetherness. In fact, all you’re building is resentment. Encourage your children to spend time with the family, but at the same time, give them the room they need to do their own thing.
- Understand your children: Many parents make the mistake of projecting their desires on their children. They don’t understand that the kids have minds of their own and need to make their own decisions at times. So try and understand them, give them space when they need it, and be there for them when they need a shoulder to lean or cry on.
When you love your children unconditionally, it’s easy enough to build and promote togetherness in the family.