When parents can’t agree on how to raise their children or run a household, there is little chance that the family environment will be one of harmony and peace. In order for children to learn teamwork and togetherness, their parents must first learn to function as a unified team. As you put into practice the following suggestions, you will make significant strides toward having a family that works together to create a happy, healthy home.
Regular communication with your spouse and children is vital to a healthy family. Have weekly family meetings where all family members can express themselves freely and openly without the fear of criticism. Talk to your children about future plans or problems and explain to them why you do certain things they may find unfair. By allowing your children to take an active part in family business, they will be more likely to want to help with any problem that needs to be solved.
2. Listen to each other
Try to consider the other person’s perspective. When you are listening, don't think about what response you are going to give. Instead, ask yourself why your spouse or child feels the way he or she does. Listening is one of the most powerful ways you can show you care about the other person. Children, especially, need to know that they are important, and this can be shown through active listening.
3. Share household responsibilities
Explain that if your family is, indeed, a team they must all do their part in the family. Discuss with your spouse what you should expect from each child, then tell the children what you would like and what you expect. If you present a unified front when you propose this idea to your children you are more likely to get a positive reaction.
4. Assign specific chores
This will teach your children to have pride in their work and learn responsibility. Teach them that they are all accountable for certain chores and that the whole family must work together in order to make your home a clean, orderly and functional place to live.
5. Establish routines
Routines help children to feel safe. Maintain a consistent schedule that is realistic for your family. For example, try to serve dinner at the same time each evening and expect everyone to attend whenever possible. Establish set bedtimes, especially for younger children, and make sure your children adhere to them. Having a schedule allows both parents and kids to know what to expect and when.
Attending a church, temple or mosque as a family helps you all realize that no one goes at it alone. Read spiritual works that reinforce your family’s belief system and inspire your family to be better. By reinforcing a value system that your family can share, you create a family culture that gives your children the sense of being part of a greater whole.
7. Have fun together
At least once a month, go on a family outing. These outings can be inexpensive and simple. Consider going on a trip to the woods, the museum or the zoo. Having fun together as a family reinforces to your children that teamwork also means playing together. Remember that a family that works together and plays together — stays together.
A. Lynn Scoresby, founder and president of My Family Track , First Answers , and Achievement Synchrony , and has been a marriage and family psychologist for more than 35 years. He has published more than 20 books and training programs.