SET THE STAGE FOR A
LOVING HOME ENVIRONMENT
It’s not difficult to determine where we get our first taste of what relationships should be. The ground rules are set within our earliest family dynamics. Children model their behavior with others on the relationships they see and experience at home. When you grow up hearing “please” and “thank you” and realize that respectful behavior is expected of you, then you use those words as you go out into the world. You soon discover that giving respect means getting it in return.
Teaching your children the skills they need to build positive relationships may mean teaching yourself those skills too. If you didn’t have the benefit of a supportive and involved family system when you were a child, it may be hard for you to provide that kind of environment for your children now. If your parents and siblings didn’t manage conflicts with peaceful problem solving, you may not be able to do so yourself. And if you grew up being judged harshly on your physical appearance, personality traits and learning skills, then you’re likely to judge others harshly now – including your spouse and children.
Take steps to break old behaviors and forge new ones for yourself and your children, and set them up for greater success with relationships in the future.
- Show affection openly, through kind words, hugs, kisses and positive feedback
- Talk to each other often, sharing values about the world, plus offering support and help on problems
- Encourage everyone to listen to one another. Try to express your feelings and understand and respect theirs
- Allow children to make their own choices and decisions by guiding them, not by pushing them
- Set an example on how to treat others. For instance, try not to blow up when you disagree with someone else; approach difficult situations calmly and methodically, not emotionally; always speak nicely about others (or not at all)
- Never engage in negative body talk. Never. If you don’t like your thighs, work on changing them. If you don’t like your child’s thighs, model good eating and exercise behavior, but don’t criticize them for the way they look.
- Each of us is unique. Just because your children bear your DNA doesn’t mean they’re a replica of you. Let them know you love that uniqueness.
- Have fun together, both as a whole family and through special one-on-one dates.
Remember, the family unit is a major influence in establishing behavior that will set up your child for a lifetime of success, positive self image and supportive relationships. Take a hard look at how your current family dynamics are influencing your child’s future. And if you don’t like what you see, change the scenario yourself. After all, you are the director of this ensemble movie and the ending is up to you.
SO MANY RELATIONSHIPS,
SO MUCH TIME
Your parents and siblings. Your friends. Your teachers. Your coaches. Your boss. Yourself. OMG. There are just so many relationships in our lives to manage. Have you noticed a pattern with them? Are some of the conflicts you have with others the same no matter who they are? Do you have the same emotional reaction every time a conflict arises? What do you say to yourself when you look in the mirror?
Thinking about these things is a helpful way to determine if you’re bogged down in bad relationship behavior. If you see a pattern of anxiety and conflict, of rollercoaster emotions and self loathing, you can take steps to end the pain and develop healthier relationships with others and yourself.
You learn how to behave – and how to expect to be treated – at home. Your parents are on stage as you sit in the audience soaking it all in and reacting. If you step back now and take a look at how your family treats each other you’ll probably see how you treat your friends and others. If you don’t like what you see, make a concerted effort now to change. You may not be able to change your parents or the family dynamics overnight, but if you speak up respectfully you may be able to make them aware of the effect their behavior has on you. Remember to also point out what you like about them and acknowledge the positive ways they have helped you. You’ll all walk away from the discussion with needed insight into each other and a blueprint for improvements.
Recognize how they make you feel when you’re together. Do you feel accepted and loved or judged and hurt? Now step back and think about how you may be making them feel. It’s true that our friends are a reflection of who we are. Try to reflect positivity, support, acceptance and love. Leave judgment to the Supreme Court. If your friends make you feel crummy, make new friends. Find a tribe that shares your commitment to being loving, kind, respectful and healthy.
YOUR AUTHORITY FIGURES
Teachers, coaches and bosses share the same responsibility of directing you along different paths. If you’re having trouble with these relationships, look at how you deal with your parents. You probably have the same conflicts at home. Get some perspective by choosing to NOT react emotionally. Are you being stubborn, prideful, or lazy? Are you being respectful of their time and efforts? Put yourself in their shoes and look at your behavior. Do you like what you see?
Your body has been with you, supported you, nourished you and will be there for you for life. So don’t be a hater. Look at your body as living history that deserves respect: the scars, the lumps, the shape of your hands that you share with your father, and his father, and his before that. Your genetic materials make up who you are, and are yours alone. Your body is a treasure you should preserve, cherish, and value. Treat it well by feeding it healthy foods, exercising it and loving it no matter what. Be a body-positive person who is grateful for the joy and experiences this perfectly imperfect vessel helps deliver every day.