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Buildong Strong Family Relationships

Strong relationships keep families together. Each person in a family brings their own unique strengths offering love, warmth, and support for each member. Here are some ways that families can continue to build strong relationships.

Listen actively to each other

Give the person your full attention, turn off the TV or put down what you are doing. Focus on what the person is telling you rather than thinking about your reaction. Relay back what you think the person is feeling or saying. Resist giving advice or reacting until you are certain you understand what they are saying.

Use “I” messages rather than “you” messages

This can be challenging but it requires us to be clear about our own thoughts and feelings. It also avoids putting others on the defensive. For example, rather than saying, “You made a mess.” say, “I need help picking up now.”

Encourage all family members to share thoughts and feelings

Even young children can share their feelings. When people feel heard and respected, they feel better about themselves, are more open to solving problems, and are more likely to allow others to express themselves.

Spend time together

Make sure that family time is a priority by making time each week to spend together. Have dinner together, share stories, or go for walks. Family time does not have to be stressful or expensive.

Handle conflict fairly

All families have conflict it is a natural part of human relationships. Strong families are able to work through fights and disagreements by focusing on the problems, rather than by “tearing each other down.”

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References

Families Matter! “Building Strong Family Relationships.” University of Delaware Cooperative Extension. http://ag.udel.edu/extension/fam/FM/issue/strongfamily.html