Hearken back for a moment to your old favorite family sitcoms. Not the modern shows with dysfunctional families, snide remarks and spoiled kids, but the classics. The old black and white or even 80s shows featured families we liked and trusted. We would have felt comfortable stepping through the TV screen into their homes.
Every family has its crazy moments and share of pitfalls. But, it's up to us as parents or caregivers to set certain standards for our individual families. What makes for a happy family?
1. They hang out - together
Quality time together doesn't have to involve a trip to Disneyworld. The little moments are what matter most. Make your home a welcome and comfortable place where your kids want to be. I'm not talking about an elaborate theater room and beanbags. Kids and friends want to spend time in homes where the parents are approachable and kind, and there are snacks for the taking.
Enjoy your kids. Snatch a half hour here and there to play games together, snuggle with a book or watch funny YouTube videos online.
2. They enforce rules
When parents firmly but lovingly enforce rules, kids feel more secure. Having restrictions shows kids that their parents care. Being consistent with rules provides perimeters and expectations for children.
They may mope and moan, but kids actually appreciate guidelines.
3. They eat dinner together regularly
Healthier and less expensive than eating out, eating a homemade dinner together as a family does take time and effort. But the payoffs, which include better physical and emotional health for your kids, are significant. Read this article on why family dinners are so important.
4. Mom and Dad are in love, and show it
Most kids groan when they see their parents kiss. They're disgusted and intrigued all at once. But showing affection as a couple reinforces the solidarity of your marriage. It's a visual display to your kids that you're happily in love.
Even when you and your spouse disagree, you can work out the conflict in a calm, respectful manner. Set an example of forgiveness in your marriage.
5. They put their kids to work
When everyone pitches in, your children feel part of the family unit. Completing a checklist of Saturday morning chores gives kids a sense of accomplishment. It shows them that they're part of a team. It teaches them to have a strong work ethic, as well.
6. They pray together
When parents teach their children about God, they acknowledge a higher being and a guiding influence in life. Teach your kids who God is, and how to pray to him. Teach them to express gratitude for your family's blessings, and that they can ask God for help with their needs.
Praying for each other and for others in need helps kids think outside themselves. Kneeling down in prayer as a family sets a peaceful, spiritual tone in your home.
7. They stick up for each other
The world is harsh enough without your family coming unglued, too. Encourage your kids to support each other and consider themselves a unit. In times of distress, they ought to rely on each other. Acknowledge the times that they compliment or help one another, and encourage them to always be there for each other.
8. They create their own traditions
Whether it's a corny family motto, T-shirt or Tuesday night tradition, creating your own special something is a significant part of being a family. It gives your kids a sense of identity and belonging.
Your children are your most important job, so help ensure the success of your family as you follow these guidelines. The habits you form as a family may become traditions children carry into their own families.