There is a quote that says, “We will not agree with everyone, but we should definitely respect one another. Respect is essential in all forms of communication”. Do you communicate with your family members with respect? Or do you scream and shout or bait, or ignore each other? Is respect one of your family values? How we behave in our family, can model how we behave in society. The values we learn at home (whether they’ve been explicitly outlined or not) we take out into the world. Some of it good, some of it bad. So how do you instil good family values?
In MindBody Publishing’s newest book Building Life Muscles, we talk about family relationships and forming resilient family bonds. Resilient families usually have, nurture, and maintain family values such as shared belief systems and common purpose. Values provide a compass of behaviour. Other recognisable values are:
· Cooperation, fairness and patience;
· Dependability, reliability and responsibility
· Kindness, love and loyalty;
· Team-work, honesty and self-control
Often, family values get passed down from generation to generation implicitly. Those values don’t ever get questioned. However, sometimes they should be because family values have the power to shape everyone in your family unit. If you recognise some learnt negative traits, you take ownership of those values and reshape them to be in line with what you envision your family to be.
Regardless of what your family looks like, how many parents and children it may (or may not include), these values inform how you deal with challenges as a unit.
Challenges are inevitable. Your values can support how your family reacts and adapt when these challenges come your way. For example, instilling values such as resilience, perseverance and patience will give your family the tools they need to get through tough times.
Your values can also define how you develop relationships with others in and out of your immediate family. Returning to the point on respect, some families believe everyone deserves respect. But is respect freely given or does it need to be earned first? It is especially important to ask yourself these type questions when establishing your family values. Below are three areas to consider in creating positive and nurturing family values.
What is most important to you? What is least important? Making sure you put these things in the right order can help you prioritise family activities. For example, how you spend family time:
What spiritual beliefs or activities matter to your family?
How will you create traditions and celebrate different cultures?
What type of education will you provide for your children?
2. Relationships with each other
For some, the way you handle family relationships will differ from how you handle external relationships e.g., does family come first, above all things, for you? It is important to define values that determine how family members treat each other. These values can define:
How children should act with each other
How children should act toward their parents
How spouses jointly deal with their children or co-parent
How spouses treat each other
3. Relationship to oneself
We can often overlook ourselves in family dynamics and pour all our care into the family. This is fine, of course, but not if it is to the detriment of our mental and physical health. Having self-compassion means that you should be kind to yourself first.
If you are having a difficult time, try not to slip into negative self-talk. Instead, you can use physical touch, like touching your hand, and talk with compassion to yourself. You can say something like, “I’m going through a challenging time, but I’m trying my best.”
Compassionate and loving physical touch is an important love language in any family dynamic and is strongly indorsed in MindBody Publishing’s second book The Calming Book of Healing Hugs. Hugging is universally comforting and is another important way that people can send messages to one another. We hug others when we’re excited, happy, sad, or trying to comfort. It makes us and others feel good and makes us healthier and happier to boot.
Oxytocin is a chemical that is released in our bodies when we hug so much so it is also referred to as the “cuddle hormone.” The positive benefits of oxytocin are strongest in relationships that have frequent hugs. So, join MindBody in making loving hugs a family value and hug your nearest and dearest every day!
Looking forward to writing to you again real soon. MBP