Guest Post by Wendy Dessler
Often people do not realize the work that goes into building a happy family until they are faced with an unhappy one. This does not mean there is something wrong with your family, but often it means that you have not laid a foundation.
When we have our first child, we feed them, play with them, clothe them and keep them safe. At that time, all is well in the universe. Then the child begins to grow and probably other children are added to the mix.
This is when things begin to get challenging. By now your little bundle of joy has a personality. They are developing habits, likes, and dislikes. If there is not a firm foundation in the home, the child feels less secure. Part of your job as a parent is to make it clear to them what is and is not acceptable. This gives them a safety net. It is pretty scary being your own boss at 6 or 7 years old.
We are going to provide you with 6 basic steps to building a happy family. Keep in mind that this will be a starting point. Your family will mature with time and so will your guide. But, by then you and your family will have the tools in place to make changes seamlessly.
Set boundaries and stick to them. As mentioned, this makes the child feel safe. That does not mean that they will like the boundaries or try to push past them. But, consistency pays off, so stay with it.
Spend time together as a family. This is very important. We live hectic lives and time is precious. But nothing is more important than your family. Make it a rule that you eat dinner together every night, or if schedules will not allow that, then eat breakfast together.
Have family night and be fair, taking turns deciding what activity you do. Whether it is playing board games, watching a movie, or baking cookies. Whatever it is, do it together.
Have a life outside of the family. Include other people in your world. Introduce your kids to sports, dance, or scouting. This allows the child to develop a healthy independence while knowing they are part of a larger unit.
Feed your family a healthy diet. But also let them have treats from time to time. Bake goods using fruits and honey for sweetness.
If they are having a birthday party, shop at a candy store online. This way you can build a cute candy buffet that makes them feel special and you control the sugar intake by ordering sugar-free candy, gluten-free candy, kosher candy, or allergy-friendly candy.
Candy comes in so many great flavors, they will never know it is sugar-free unless you tell them.
Keep adulting between adults. Decide on family rules together and in private. A strong and happy family has the adults acting together. Never talk bad about your partner to your child. Do not argue about a rule in front of the child. Respect the child enough to give consideration to their requests, and try to come to a compromise as a family. But, be united parents.
Live, love, forgive, and support!
This is the single most important tip we can give you. Never hold a grudge against your child for a mistake they made. Never give them the silent treatment or try to make them feel guilty.
If you want a happy family, accept that people make mistakes. Teach your children to apologize when they are wrong and then show them how forgiveness works. They will learn this from the way you handle your own mistakes. Every moment is a teachable moment.