Parenting Tips and Strategies for A Happy Healthy Family
I almost met a guy at the dog park one day a few summers ago. My dog and his dog befriended each other. So we were in the same area when his phone rang. I gathered it was his wife. She sounded upset although I couldn’t make out any words. From where I was standing, she sounded like the schoolteacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons: “Whaaah, wah, waaah, wah, wahhh . . .”
From her tone and this guy’s reaction, it became clear that she was upset to say the least.
I wasn’t the only one in the park to gather they had two boys: Allan and Tim. Apparently, the boys were causing trouble. Something about gasoline and bottle rockets.
Anyway, that’s when he said what makes me remember that day: “Well, did you knock their heads together?”
He said it like that was the usual reaction when the situation called for action. It was almost a matter-of-fact tone expressing an obvious solution. Like if someone complained that the light didn’t come on with the switch, another might ask, “Well, did you check the light bulb?”
If this was a normal step in their disciplinary routine, I shuddered to think what the next usual step might be. Knock their heads together?
Preparing For Family Happiness Before Your Wedding
One tip for having a happy, healthy family is to start before you have a family. In fact, start before you get married. One way to get many important questions answered before tying the knot is premarital counseling. Whether or not you choose counseling, however, there are some questions you’ll definitely want to know the answers to.
Of course, the most basic question is whether or not you actually want to have children. If yes, how many? If kids are in your future, now is the time to start thinking about parenting. Are you and your partner on the same page?
Your loved one came from a different family with different values and traditions and views on rearing children. Some of these may be predictors of your compatibility not only as parents, but as spouses. You’ll want to delve into these issues thoroughly to see if there are conflicts that might arise when it comes to raising kids.
Two controversial parenting topics, for example, are:
Discipline: Was your spouse raised in a household where head knocking was normal? How about spanking? It’s not uncommon to hear someone say, “That’s how I was raised and I turned out just fine.” Physical punishment is an extremely volatile and sensitive subject and one that you and your future spouse will want to research and discuss thoroughly. What consequences will you provide your children? How will you handle conflict, disagreements, and misbehavior?
Religion: Are there not only familial expectations or traditions but religious ones? Do you plan to take the kids to church? Which one? Every Sunday? Not at all?
Even though these are tough questions, the answers are important. They’re important not only because they give you another glimpse into your compatibility, but because they will affect the lives of your future children. If you are on opposite sides of the fence in a lot of ways when it comes to parenting, your future family life will be strengthened and enhanced by premarital counseling.
Maintaining Family Happiness After Your Wedding
Some simple ways to keep your family happy and healthy are:
Develop your own family traditions and rituals. You and your future spouse both grew up with family traditions and rituals. Now is your chance to pick and choose the best parts of those traditions, drop the parts you didn’t like, and add things you always wanted to try. Together you can develop traditions and rituals that are unique to your family’s personality.
Eat together as a family daily. Turn off the computers, tablets, phones, and the TV. If family meals are an opportunity for family members to share the happenings of their day rather than an opportunity for mom and dad to fuss at the kids, your family will develop close-knit bonds that will be difficult to break.
Do chores as a family. Many hands lighten the load. With most moms working outside the home, household chores are usually done after work, on weekends, and – quite often – by mom. Working together on the house, the yard, and the laundry, the family has more time to…
Play together as a family. From board games to bowling to nature walks, playing together as a family (and nothing says friends can’t come along) will continue to strengthen your family’s bonds and encourage communication — which is especially useful during those (sometimes) difficult teen years.
Click here to learn more about how to connect as a family and to learn if therapy is right for your family.
Seek support when needed
If you are having difficulty managing family relationships or could use parenting tips for your specific family’s needs, parent coaching or family therapy can help. It can be beneficial to explore the specific issues your family faces and develop customized solutions with an objective third-party. Sometimes, marriage counseling can be most helpful so you and your partner can discuss and get on the same page about routine parenting challenges. Marriage counseling can also help strengthen your bond as a couple, which impacts your family dynamic in a positive way.
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