A family is a unit that God put together to provide support throughout life’s journey. All families can look different depending on the stage of life they are in, whether raising children or empty nesting, traditional or blended. No matter what your family looks like, God is working through it for the growth and betterment of each member.
What is the key to a stronger family? Dr. Karol Kumpfer of Strengthening Families focuses on creating warm, loving relationships between family members. This bonding is essential to create the kind of family environment where children thrive, and family members find joy and fulfillment. Close-knit connections promote open and honest conversation, build trust within the family unit, and facilitate making lasting memories.
Did you know, working together on household chores can bring your family closer? According to research published in the journal, Psychological Science, shared pain is an incredible bonding experience. So, whether you’re doing yard work as a family, tackling a project, or simply collaborating on the cooking and cleaning, the time you spend doing necessary, but unpleasant or even difficult tasks helps strengthen the bond between family members.
Your words matter, and how you speak to those closest to you matters even more. Your relationships are dramatically affected by the words you speak and the tone you use. Guard your most important relationships by choosing your words carefully. Wait to discuss conflict until you are calm. Resolve to use encouragement, gentle correction, and season every conversation with love, even in disagreement.
One routine that can help build family bonds is to eat a meal together around the table with no distractions every day. Studies show that children who eat 5-7 meals per week with their families are happier, and less likely to have negative outcomes like drug or alcohol abuse. With some interesting conversation starters on hand and some practice, it will soon become a highlight of your family’s day.
Reading the Bible, prayer, and worship are all important ways of strengthening your family. Pursuing Christ, openly and transparently in front of your children, illustrates what it means to serve a God who cares for them and has a plan for their lives. Set a daily devotional time with your family, make a point to attend your local church regularly, and take each of your families’ struggles to God in prayer.
Investing in your marriage is an important part of strengthening your family. The first family God made was a marriage. One man, one woman, with God at the center. A strong marriage is the foundation of a strong family. Whether you are raising children or not, a healthy marriage honors God, encourages growth, and brings holiness to our lives.
One of the best ways to strengthen bonds in your family is to spend time making memories together. Shared experiences create strong ties between parents and children. While the activities you choose may look different depending on the stage of life you are in, the important thing is to get off the couch, get the family together, and do something that will spark conversation and laughter, and be remembered for a lifetime.
Blending families, especially when there are children involved, is a process. Blended families face many challenges that other families may not. When two families come together, an entirely new family is being made. It takes time, patience and hard work before true family cohesion can happen. There may be old ways of doing things that need to yield to the new. Humbly and prayerfully consider what changes will help the whole family feel connected, heard, and loved.
When was the last time your family had an adventure? Shake things up by taking a trip together. Go sight-seeing in a new city or take the family camping for the first time. Not the adventurous type? Read an exciting book series aloud together or camp out on the living room floor. Get out of the routine, have an adventure, and create a new connection in your family.
We all have a family background. Our past traumas and struggles, for better or for worse, feature heavily in how we relate to our partners, how we parent, and how we care for each other. It is necessary to let go of the past and allow God to design a new structure for your unique family. No matter what baggage you may carry, God offers healing and hope for your family.
When a family plays together, everyone reaps the benefits. Play enhances problem solving, and mental and physical development. Research shows that play reduces stress and releases oxytocin, the hormone responsible for bonding and connectedness. Play is not just important for kids! It keeps you young too, by improving brain function and boosting energy. George Bernard Shaw said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.”