This month, we asked our experts: What do you think is the key to a happy family?
- Learning together, whether it’s visiting museums, listening to an elderly relative tell about their childhood or reading. (Devonne Carter, LCSW)
- Ensure that every family member has an active role in taking care of the home. Even small children can help out with chores. It gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment to contribute. (Mari Farthing, MetroFamily Editor)
- Research states that families who share meals are ultimately more successful and have children with fewer behavior problems. (Kevin Tutty, LPC)
- Happy families let go of resentments and love unconditionally. This may sound cliché, but coming from a family that doesn’t practice this, I can tell you now that I’m an adult and have the capability to do so on my own, it makes a world of difference in my happiness, and more importantly, my level of contentment! (Valerie Riley, Founder of The Riley Group)
- Read with your kids, even if they’ve been reading on their own for ages. And find things to do together that don’t involve a screen. (Jennifer Geary, MetroFamily columnist and blogger)
- Focus on the positive! Every night for several years when our kids were young, we would take turns sharing one good or funny thing that happened in our day. No matter how hard of a day it was, we could always find something positive to share, and it ended our day on a happy note. (Tamara Walker, RN and host of MomRN radio program)
- Shared traditions are important to family bonding. There is often a focus on one-on-one time with each child, but quality time spent together as a family creates positive memories and builds unity. (Sarah Taylor, MetroFamily Publisher)
- Long road trips and breakfast on weekend mornings are great ways to spend time together as a family. (Donnie VanCuren, M.A., LMFT)
- Start a project together. We love to experiment with new recipes and unfamiliar foods, but it can be anything. Gardening in the spring is another popular project we work on together. Anything that we can do to promote teamwork and a sense of unity and common purpose is a great way to bond with people you love. (Shannon Fields, MetroFamily columnist)
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Dessert for breakfast won’t cause the world to come to an end—trust me. (Donnie VanCuren)
- Volunteer together! It instills the value of generosity and compassion in your kids while bonding families by working as a team. (Tamara Walker)
- Communicate more positives than negatives to your kids and spouse. Find them doing something right each day. (Donnie VanCuren)
- Schedules can be a working family’s best friend. Routines are good and help a household run smoother. Just remember to also schedule in fun, such as family movie or game nights and eating dinner together. (Shannon Fields)
- Let your children see both your successes and your mistakes. They will need to learn from both. (Donnie VanCuren)
- Children need to be allowed to make mistakes when they are young and the costs are lower, in order to learn to make their own decisions. Rejoice in their mistakes, because that’s when they truly learn and grow. Talk about it and engage your kids in understanding how important “failure” is. (Sarah Taylor)
Our Readers Respond
What do our readers think make for a happy family? Here are their responses, in random order.
- Laugh together.
- Let everyone be themselves.
- Spend time actively engaged with each other.
- Put God at the center.
- Be positive and foster compassion.
- Compromise and pick your battles.
- Separate bathrooms!
- The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Take time to be together with no extracurricular activity scheduled.
- Make each other a priority.
- Tell each other you love them all the time.
- Pray together, play together and dream together.
Thanks to Stacy M, Jennifer S., Jenna M., Douglas C., Trina M., Ashley K., Shana H., Marella P., Joan A., Lara G., Christy K., Rebekah L., Chad C., Brenda H. and Nicky D for your feedback!
Have a question for our experts? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.