Change can feel hard. But if you want to build healthy family relationships, these 6 ideas are helpful and realistic, even for a busy family.
Healthy family relationships sometimes require change
Lately, we’ve been looking at how to be a wise woman building up her home, from Proverbs 14:1. Among many important qualities, we most recently looked at how to problem-solve when things are getting a little off track for your family life.
And one of the quickest places where moms get stuck in the problem-solving process is in the step of brainstorming ideas for what to do differently.
Many moms will be able to identify what the problem is and how they want things to be different. But if you just straight to trying a random idea… well, it’s unlikely to work super well.
It’s much more helpful to take time to think through what’s going on, brainstorm ideas, and then plan out how to make the best ideas work for YOUR family and your unique season of life.
But coming up with ideas of what to try can feel tricky.
So today, I want to jump start that process for you. I’ll share 6 small things that you can do TODAY (and every day) that will boost your family relationships.
No matter what problem you might be facing, these ideas will be helpful. And they’re really just a jumping off point!
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Before we jump into these ideas, let me make sure that you know about one of my most popular items, which is 100% designed to help you in this problem-solving/brainstorming process.
Totally for FREE, you can grab my e-book Building Your Mom Toolbox: Help Your Family Get Out Of A Rut And Reconnect. It walks through all of the problem-solving steps that we’ve looked at recently, includes personalized worksheets to help you apply the steps to your own life, AND includes 20+ brainstorming ideas to really get you started!
Now, let’s think through some ideas that will help you build healthy family relationships every day!
6 things to try for building healthy family relationships every day
Friend, let me remind you: this is just a jumping off point.
Every one of these ideas will be helpful for every mom, every family, every home. They will help many different problem areas that you might be facing.
But they are not miracles. None of these ideas are a magic wand that will make your problems disappear. They are helpful, they are realistic, but they might not be the cure-all that you hope for!
With that in mind… let’s dive in to some helpful ideas!
1. Practice hard conversations ahead of time.
No one enjoys giving negative feedback, sharing painful information, or disciplining their child. Hard conversations are… well, they’re hard. I know that’s not profound, but it is true!
And here’s what I have found in my 10+ years as a counselor – when you expect a hard conversation, it goes SO MUCH BETTER if you practice ahead of time.
What might you practice? Here’s a few things:
- What are you going to say?
- Can you clearly explain why you need to say that?
- How do you think the other person might respond?
- What will help YOU stay calm or react in the best way possible if they do respond like you’re afraid they will?
You can write it out, rehearse it in your head, or say it out loud to your bathroom mirror. But practicing will give you more confidence, help you stay more calm, and allow you to more clearly communicate.
2. Give a specific compliment to each family member every day
Let this be a fun one! This is easy to do every day, and it should make you smile as much as it makes the rest of your family smile.
The thing is, we all tend to think positive thoughts or compliments… and then never say them out loud.
Now, it’s very possible that you’re feeling too frustrated/angry/discouraged in your relationships to notice very many positive things right now. If that’s where you are at, you can still do this small task every day!
If you’re feeling stuck, try this:
- Keep a list of compliments for each family member on your phone (or on a piece of paper). You could even use a gratitude list template for this.
- Add to the list anytime you are frustrated or upset with them.
- Make sure to also add to the list if a random positive thought pops up for you!
- On a day when you’re stuck, just look at the list and tell them one of the compliments you have ready for them.
3. Ask how you can be praying for them (and then actually pray)
I’ve said it many times, and I’ll say it again: prayer is powerful. One of the best ways you can love your family is to become more and more a woman of prayer.
And for a small, everyday task that can make a big difference: pray!
Yes, pray for your family during your normal devotional time. Pray for them at the dinner table. But also, pray for them when they have a specific need.
And if they aren’t sharing a specific need, ask them how you can be praying for them.
Bonus point: Pause for a moment while they are there beside you, and pray for them! It can be very simple. “Lord, bless ____ and please help her with _____ issue. Amen.”
4. When emotions get high, take a short cool-down break.
I will admit: this task is not always easy.
As a counselor, I help people work on this cool-down break for weeks at a time! It can be really hard to change a habit when our emotions are involved.
But this one is POWERFUL, my friend.
When you’re feeling angry, stop the conversation and take a break. Feeling frustrated? Hit the pause button. Starting to feel really annoyed with the other person? Hold up the classic “T” sign for time-out, and take a short break to calm down.
This allows you to manage your emotions, calm them down, and return to the conversation in a more logical and helpful place.
And when you notice the other person is getting upset or angry, YOU can also ask for a short break to calm down!
There are two BIG keys for this small task to be really successful:
- Take a break AS SOON as you notice that emotions are getting high. (Don’t wait. You know thing are only going to escalate, so take a break quickly.)
- Always take the blame on yourself. Never say “You need a break” or “You need to calm down.” Even if they are the one getting upset, you just say, “I think I need a few minutes to cool down before we keep talking.”
If you’re not sure about how to tackle this task, make sure to grab my FREE 10-Point Conflict Resolution Checklist. It is perfect for these moments, because you can just pull it out and follow the steps without letting emotions get in the way.
5. Notice when you start grumbling, and stop.
Okay, this is a two-part step. Both are equally important. But, it is very straightforward.
- Notice the grumble.
- Stop it.
The grumble might be 100% in your own head or it might be coming out of your mouth. Either way, it is important to stop that grumbling in its tracks right away.
Now, you night be wondering how to stop it. There are plenty of options, but I have found that the quickest way is to confess the grumbling thought or word to God, and then purposefully think about something else that is more positive.
And if you notice that someone else in your family is starting to grumble or complain more often, you can influence this too.
(But remember: NO BLAMING ALLOWED. Don’t tell them they are always complaining. Just try to influence them to change.)
When someone else is the grumbler, you could try to point out things they could focus on that are positive. Or, you could ask them what is something they are thankful for. Even a simple distraction might be enough to stop the negative trend.
6 Stop using the phrases "you never" and "you always."
There is only ONE time in your home that you should use these 2 phrases: when your comment is 100% positive, 100% of the time.
So, yes, if you are going to say, “Sweetheart, you never fail to make me smile,” that’s perfectly fine. It might even fall into the “compliment” section above!
But we all know that this is not our most frequent use of this phrase.
We tend to speak in generalities. And sometimes, that’s fine. But when it is a comment that blames, criticizes, or corrects someone, we want to be specific and kind.
Try this one out today. And then try it again tomorrow. If you are tempted to say, “Geez, you never remember to take out the trash,” try changing it to “Geez, you forgot to take out the trash.”
Yes, there are even more ways that you could say this. You could reframe it as an I statement: “I am frustrated that the trash didn’t get taken out even after I reminded you.” Or you could turn it into a question: “I often feel like the trash is slow to leave the house, what do you think we could try differently for taking out the trash regularly?”
But at the end of it all, start with this tip. Avoid saying “you never.” Don’t use the phrase “you always.”
Unless, of course, it’s a 100% positive comment… and then, say it a lot!
Take time for things that will build healthy family relationships
My friend, I know that life is busy. That is a reality of Christian family life all around the world, and all throughout history.
You have 24 hours every day to manage it all. But don’t forget what are the most important things in the “all” that you are managing.
And if you’re reading this blog, chances are, one of those most important things is building, maintaining, and enjoying healthy family relationships.
So take time for the things that you think will help that happen!
Today, we looked at 6 small ideas. Things that will help every family, no matter what is going on. But over time, you will have plenty of more specific problems that come up for your family. Some seasons of life will be more difficult than others.
And when those problems pop up, don’t ignore them. Solve them! Figure out what’s wrong, what you want to be different, and brainstorm ideas for how you could start creating positive change. What might boost those healthy family relationships? How can you start to get things back on track?
Listen to Episode #122
The Friday Faith Follow-up Episode
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Disclaimers: I am a licensed therapist but my podcast, blog, and resources are not professional or personal advice. I am an affiliate for many of the resources that I link to, and may earn a small commission if you purchase through my link. Read my full disclaimer here.