Do you find you have less and less time to spend with your parents and siblings? Are you working crazy hours and going out solo, or spending a lot of time with your spouse and children, and feel you are losing some connection with your family?
The amount of time available to spend with your family of origin may be limited, or you may be growing distant as a result of living apart, having different interests or dealing with conflicts over how you should be living your life. The question is: How can you maintain and/or build your family relationships in order to have a close relationship with them, in spite of these varying stumbling blocks?
1. Use technology to stay in touch. If you don’t get to see your family as often as you would like, there are many ways to stay in touch using technology. I recently set my parents up on Skype with a webcam so that they could chat with my brother’s kids over the computer while getting to see their faces! I use Instant Messaging software to chat with my cousins and now, with the advent of Facebook, I can see quick updates of what my cousins are up to and provide them with updates on my life, as well. Although technology can seem impersonal, it can be a great tool for quick interactions or to catch up with family members when you cannot see them in person.
2. Reminisce together. The more you remember the good times together and/or grieve the hard times together, the closer you and your family members can become. By remembering old stories, you can laugh together, share stories and remember the times you shared with your immediate and/or extended family and friends. By bringing up the past, sharing old stories and remembering fun times, you can rebuild relationships and remind yourselves that the fondness, understanding and fun can be experienced again.
3. Express yourself. Sometimes, family bonds can be strained when one person’s feelings are hurt by something that was done or said by another member of the family. In order to maintain close bonds, express your concerns or your hurt feelings. Family members often don’t know that what they said or did was hurtful. If it is a recurring problem, learn to set boundaries. For example, if a family member continues to berate your work, let them know that this is upsetting to you, and that you would like to avoid that topic in the future. Expressing your feelings, hurts, anger and happiness with family is a way to be authentic with them and share who you really are so that you can be close and enjoy the time you spend together.
4. Spend quality time together. Spending time together is one of the easiest ways to maintain close ties with your family. Although time with family can sometimes be stressful, it can also be fun, encouraging and full of laughter. If you live close to your family, dedicate one night a week to a family dinner; if you don’t live close enough for weekly visits, figure out a way to visit each other once a month or once every couple of months; and if you live even farther apart, try to arrange an annual reunion. No matter the avenue you decide to take, spending quality time with your family will allow you to build or maintain the close relationships you are looking for.
5. Create family traditions. Create some memorable family traditions that can be passed down to future generations. Whether it is a family vacation to the beach each year, baking Christmas cookies together each holiday season, fun summer picnics, Sunday dinners, or an annual family reunion including extended family, find something that will be memorable and fun, and be sure to follow through on making them traditions. The more effort you put into these traditions, the more you will want to honor them, as they will become something to look forward to.
Family relationships and bonds can be hard to maintain as we get older, go our own ways and as our lives gets busy. Every family has their share of stress and conflict, but if you remember the importance of the great things family can bring to your life – connection, love, stability, laughter and joy – you will see that the good things far outweigh the bad. Spending some time either visiting, calling or sharing will help keep the bonds strong, and allow you to have healthy, positive relationships with family members for years to come.
Monica Thakrar is a life coach focused on helping clients live a more balanced, joyful life. She helps clients achieve “wellness from the inside out.” Take a free “How Stressed Are You” Quiz and receive 9 Stress Management tips FREE by signing up for it at [http://www.joyfulsoulcoaching.com]. Also sign up for a free Stress and Health Tele-summit at: [http://joyfulsoulcoaching.com/fabulousinsights.html].
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