No family is perfect. We tend to think other families are more perfect than our own, because all we see are their “highlight reels” on facebook and Instagram, but in truth, all families have struggles. A “perfect family” is just an imperfect group of people who refuse to give up on each other!
Though no family is truly “perfect,” there are many families who are truly happy. As I’ve studied marriages and family dynamics, I’ve found some traits happy families seem to share. This is definitely not a comprehensive list, and these don’t necessarily apply to every family, but I’m convinced that this list is a great starting point for any family who wants to take their health and happiness to a new level.
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1. Happy families create and celebrate traditions.
Family traditions can give a sense of security and healthy pride. In our family, those traditions can be small things like eating Mexican food after church on Sundays and big things like our tradition of honoring the birthday boy or girl by going around the dinner table and all sharing something significant we love and cherish about that person. Be intentional about creating and celebrating traditions (both big and small).
2. Happy families strive for unity, not uniformity.
It’s so important that a family be unified around a shared set of defining principles, but it’s also important that each individual in the family has the opportunity to express their God-given individuality. Happy families aren’t a collection of clones who all look, act and think the exact same way; they are are a group of diverse individuals unified by love, respect and commitment to one another.
Communication does for a family what breathing does for lungs. Make it a priority to communicate regularly around meal tables. Leave handwritten notes for each other. Send text messages throughout the day, but be willing to turn off the electronics at night. Plan activities like a family “Game Night” or any activity to spark conversation.
4. Happy families encourage much more than they criticize.
There is definitely a time and place for constructive criticism in families, but happy families have found that encouragement can bring positive improvements much more effectively than constant criticism. Encouragement also fosters an atmosphere of safety and security for each person in the home.
For additional marriage and family-building resources, check out our 2-minute video on How to bring more FUN to your Family and read our bestselling book, iVow: Secrets to a Stronger Marriage which is also now available on iTunes for download on iPhones and iPads.