Families come in all shapes and sizes, and have their own unique ways of interacting with each other. At Westchester Health, we feel strongly that there is no perfect family, or even a “normal” one. However, we have observed over the years that healthy, well-functioning families tend to have several key characteristics in common: mutual support, love and caring for each other, a sense of security and belonging, open communication and a feeling that each family member is important, respected and valued.
To help families have healthy, positive interactions, Dr. Lauren Adler, a pediatrician with our Westchester Health Pediatrics group, has put together 6 guidelines for a healthy, connected family where everyone flourishes — even teenagers. Please let us know if they help your family.
Maintaining a healthy family
Dinner: 30 Minutes to a More Connected Family
Believe it or not, time spent having dinner together as a family is an excellent gauge of how well kids will navigate adolescence. The more frequently kids eat dinner with their families, the better they do in school and the less likely they are to get involved with drugs or alcohol, suffer depression, consider suicide or become sexually active during high school. Dinner transforms individual family members into a “group” – all for one and one for all.
Why Kids Need Routines and Structure
Children are confronted with change daily, which can be stressful. Dependable, productive routines can keep stress and tempers at bay and give soothing structure to family life.
The Family That Plays Together
From a joke-telling competition to an impromptu pillow fight, infusing a spirit of joy and playfulness into your home nurtures your family like little else. Playing together is an almost magical way to build connection, because when you’re laughing with someone, you’re bonding.
If the idea of family meetings seem stilted and artificial, our advice is: just try them. They create connection. They give you a way to work things out when everyone’s calm. They help your kids learn to solve problems. They help kids feel like integral members of the family and give every family member a voice.
Make Your Home a Haven
To thrive, we all need a safe place — both physically and emotionally — to come home to. Children especially need a secure, solid home where they feel protected and can recharge. No matter how independent they become after they start having sleepovers and sports tournaments, when they come home they want two things: a safe place where they can be fully themselves, and to connect with the rest of the family in a comfortable way.
Family Culture: Shared Identity and Belonging
How do you hold a family together? How do you make kids WANT to spend time with the family? The answers to these questions largely have do with the family culture you create, especially family rituals: Jack-O-Lantern carving, birthday celebrations, July 4th picnics.
4 important questions to ask yourself about your family dynamics
- Do you treat each child as an individual?
- Are your expectations of your children realistic?
- Does the time you spend together as a family foster good relationships?
- Are you teaching your child solid, positive values?
Want to know more? Come see us, we’re here to help.
We get it. We’re parents too and have lots of tips and advice to offer you regarding raising happy, healthy kids. Please call (914) 232-1919 to make an appointment with one of our Westchester Health pediatricians to get answers. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.
To read Dr Adler’s blog in full, click here.