Characteristics of a Healthy Family Relationship

We are back to school and in full swing!


My son started first grade this year, and last week he brought home a diagram he and his class made about what it means to be a responsible citizen. Here are the four qualities they came up with:

  1. HONEST
  2. FOLLOW RULES
  3. RESPECT OTHERS
  4. HELP MAKE DECISIONS

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I Loved it. In talking about it that night, we ended up making our own diagram and talking about what responsible families look like. Guess what? It was similar. We talked with our little dude about how responsible families:

  1. Are Honest. Tell the truth, even if it is hard. Speak up when we need to share how we are feeling or if we are hurt because it is safe to do that in our home. Emotions are present to let us know how something is good or bad. We want our children to be honest so we can help guide the thoughts they connect with those feelings in a healthy way.
  2. Follow Rules. Rules are to keep us safe, and if we don’t know why a rule is there, we can ask. For example, our boy got a new toy and we asked him to wait until we were home to use it. He chose to try it in the car and the toy flew right into our girl’s face, resulting in a minor injury. Sometimes we really want to do something, but for the greater good we need to follow rules and wait.
  3. Respect One Another. Respecting others is one we keep working on in our home. We talked about how respecting means that if someone says “No” or to “Stop doing something,” we listen and respect their boundaries. We also discussed how respect means we look out for each other and serve one another. If we see a need in our home, we don’t wait for someone else to do it or ask, we step in and do it.
  4. Work as a Team. We talked about how we all help make decisions and have some ownership in our family. While big decisions will fall on dad or mom, we like input from our kids too.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes we have to visit these first grade reminders as a reset. If you feel your communication breaking down, or feel yourself isolating or being self-focused, or if your body is screaming for you to slow down, then get back to the basics. I love Heather Sutton’s phrase “You are not five,” and I would suggest there are times in our life we are emotionally acting like it. When that happens, we need to revisit those simple truths so that we have some power to change the course of where our attitudes, tones, or hearts are going. Sometimes it takes remembering we are part of something bigger, whether it is a family, marriage, team, Get Fit community, or community at large. I hope we all continue to strive to be responsible citizens.

Sarah Andrews is a Get Fit member and a Marriage and Family Therapist who practices in Modesto. Learn more about Sarah and her work at www.sarahandrewsmft.com.