Family is such an integral part of who we are and what we become. Our family offers us needed support along every step of the way, and helps us learn how to deal with life’s problems, make decisions, and interact with others.
Much of this comes from modeling and observing other family members, and learning how to think and behave around others.
Family patterns, values, and behaviors are often passed along unknowingly from generation to generation. A valuable place where positive psychology and the humanistic tradition focus efforts is in examining positive family values, and how this translates into well-being and life-satisfaction for future generations.
Of course, every family has their quirks and dysfunctions, but beginning to examine the current family patterns, as well as our family history, we can be a change agent for the future, and provide positive values that we want to become the norm.
What positive attributes and values are you passing on?
Here are some things to consider in growing a healthy family tree.
Healthy boundaries are important. Families that have clear, healthy boundaries help their children to develop self-respect and healthy relationships in the future. It’s good to be open and honest, while still maintaining personal limits.
There should be space for family to gather and come together, such as a living room or kitchen, however family members also need their privacy and their personal space. Similarly, kids should be allowed to take some risks and develop autonomy without overbearing parents preventing this growth.
Support family member’s goals. Families offer the best source of support and encouragement when it comes to personal growth. Family members can rally around each others goals to bolster and assist in positive growth and development. This is a wonderful way to build love, trust, and unity within a family. When we feel that others are on our side and have our best interest at heart, these relationships are more likely to be significant and lasting.
Have family rituals and traditions. What family traditions do you have? Most families have some sort of tradition, whether from holiday gatherings or more creative and unique ways of sharing experiences together. These traditions are a wonderful way to bring people together and offer families a chance to bond and build affection. Traditions also offer something to pass along to coming generations and can be a source of pride and gratification.
Have a few general rules that work. Knowing expectations and limits is important for families to have order and mutual respect, though rigid and overly strict parenting can lead to problems in social and emotional development. Simple and general rules such as honesty, showing respect, being responsible are general ideas that convey expectations and can provide direction in behavior. In this sense using an authoritative parenting style provides a chance to show respect and love while still helping the child develop self-discipline.
Gaining awareness of your “family tree” provides a chance to learn about where you came from and the difficult issues that may still be impacting your life. Consider the values that your family embraces and how these impact beliefs and behavior of each member.
Everyone is different and comes from a unique culture, but overall a family that believes in reconciliation, resilience, and tolerance will be able to weather the storms of life and be a positive source of strength and character development.