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Discovering Self-Compassion

Your Guide to a Happy Family

Everywhere you turn, someone has advice on how to parent and improve your family life. You’re bombarded with it by well-meaning in-laws and when you see smiling kids on TV with perfect parents, yet wonder why you can’t have that. You find that you compare yourself to other moms at play dates and feel guilty for ordering kids a Chicken McNugget Happy Meal because you didn’t have time or energy to cook. Let’s face it: life is messy and you won’t always get it right. But these tips on compassionate ways you can create a happy come will be the final familial best practices you’ll need to read.

Be a role model for a happy marriage.
Our pre-marital counselor once told my husband that the best gift you can give a child is to love his mother. And I think this goes both ways. You must always put your marriage first because, if you put your kids first, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. Eventually, the kids move out and you find you have nothing in common with your spouse and divorce. Also, if you focus on each other, your children will have a sample of what a strong, healthy, and loving marriage looks like.

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
Ask the kids how their day was and actually listen. Teach them to talk about their feelings and any issues they may be having. Plus, it will improve their communication skills for later in life.

Eat together.
Studies show that kids who have frequent, consistent dinners with their families get better grades and are also less likely to end up in an addiction recovery. There is But it can also be a platform for conversations and just a way to enjoy each other’s company.

Create rituals and traditions.
They can be religious or you can make up your own. Maybe you implement a family game night, do a weekly pizza night or Taco Tuesday, or watch “Hocus Pocus” together every Halloween. No matter what you do, spend time together.

Provide stability.
I’m a big believer in that kids thrive on stability. Talk to them, set rules and boundaries (and enforce them), and discipline them when necessary. They’ll thank you later.

All work and no play...
Make time for your kids. If you’re at work all the time, you’re not spending time with your family, which can lead to resentment.

Core values are key.
Sit down with your kids and have a discussion about you think your family’s core values are or should be. Maybe you go to church every Sunday or you vow to do volunteer work every month. Whatever they may be, make them the center of your life.

Don’t be afraid to lean on your friends and extended family.
We all need a good support system and chances are that you’ve spent years building your network of individuals and couples you can trust. It’s okay to reach out to them in times of joy, crisis, etc. In fact, it’s healthy.

Families band together.
Everyone goes through hard times. What matters more is what you do to overcome adversity. The best part of having a family is never having to face tough situations alone.

Go on an adventure.
Plan fun, family vacations. You don’t have to spend lots of money to create memories. Try camping or taking a day trip to a near-by beach or amusement park. Bonus points if it’s spontaneous.

Eliminate stress.
If your schedule is jam-packed, you may need to eliminate a few extra-curricular activities because even kids need a break. Carve out some time in the evening to just relax and hang out together.

Play nice.
This one is pretty obvious, but avoid fighting in front of the kids.

Praise each other.
Be sure to praise your child frequently. Also, let him or her see you complimenting your husband or wife.

Commit yourself to showing your kids that family should be a priority.

Respect each other’s need for privacy.
Do simple things like knocking before entering a room, especially if the door is closed, and respecting if someone needs their space. Respect is key in a happier family.

Know when to say you’re sorry. Growing up, my parents never once admitted when they were wrong, let alone apologize. Now that I’m a parent, I want my daughter to know the value of an apology and that it’s okay to admit when you’re wrong, so I apologize to her and, in turn, she apologizes to me when she does something wrong.

While this list may not be exhaustive, implementing these tips (even if it’s only one or two at a time) will make your family stronger and happier. And when your family is happier, you’ll be happier.