15 Secrets of Happy Families
Experts reveal the key ingredients to a happy family life.
Happy Family Secret No. 9: Keep Your Voices Down
Remember that children thrive on stability. "There has to be a calm
environment at home," says Boteach. "Talk to your kids, give them
strict rules, and punish children when necessary, but don't lose control and
yell. If you yell at kids, that shows you are out of control and you create a
Happy Family Secret No. 10: Never Fight in Front of the Kids
TV viewers never really saw Carol and Mike Brady go at it, did they? While
some fighting or bickering may be inevitable, try to keep it away from the
children, Boteach says. "If your kids see you fight and argue, apologize
and say, 'We are sorry you had to see it. Daddy and I just had a disagreement,
but everything is OK now.'"
Happy Family Secret No. 11: Don't Work Too Much
All work and no play does worse things to a family than make it dull.
"If you are away all the time and don't prioritize your kids, your kids
will internalize feelings of insecurity," says Boteach. They'll begin to
believe that they're not valuable enough.
Happy Family Secret No. 12: Encourage Sibling Harmony
Sibling rivalry can be divisive. "I try to speak to my kids about how
fortunate they are to have siblings," Boteach says.
Happy Family Secret No. 13: Have Private Jokes
Happy families have inside jokes, Syracuse's Fiese says, "Jokes and
nicknames symbolize that this is a group that you belong to and serves as a
shorthand for larger experiences," she says.
Happy Family Secret No. 14: Be Flexible
"This is easier said than done," says Fiese. "But by their very nature,
families change so you have to be open to change in membership and age,"
Fiese says. "Somebody gets married, somebody dies, somebody remarries and
teenagers are no longer children and young adults are no longer teenagers, but
they are all still part of the family."
Happy Family Secret No. 15: Communicate
Rose J. Perkins, EdD, associate professor of psychology at Stonehill College
in Easton, Mass., says that a happy family communicate with one another.
"Frequently families are set up where everyone tells the mom and then the
mom sends the message, but in a happy family, there are more flexible, open
lines of communication."
In happy families, "all the members of family unit are able to
communicate openly," she says.