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5 Steps to Get Your Ideal Family

We all want the perfect family. We all want to be able to come home to a relaxing environment and be able to expect to have some predictability as to the behaviors and structures of the homestead. We wish to have our spouse available and ready for insightful and engaging conversation (and the occasional empty sink without asking). We wish for our children to have their homework done, teeth brushed, and in relatively good mood. When we break from these ideals, and when our expectations when entering the home are of isolation, distant communication from our spouse, opposition and arguments from the children, and rather than teeth brushed and relative cleanliness, we are amazed that the children survived the physical onslaught brought on by older or younger siblings, it may become a possibility that things may need to change. Being overwhelmed is a realistic feeling and not knowing where to even begin is also a key issue for families.

Here are some steps to take to help get you to where you want to be:

1.)    Identify what a family means to you. Whether you write it down on paper or begin the internal monologue, you need to organize and identify some of the weaker areas of the family dynamic. This involves slowing down and taking a step back from the chaos. You must be able to step back for a moment and not become enmeshed in the current issues. It’s hard to gain perspective when your head is spinning in every direction. There’s more information on this if you  Click Here – A Family is What YOU Make it

2.)    Identify what your family strengths are and what are the weaknesses.

Although your family might have some trouble communicating, is there respect between family members? Is there love? Is the family motivated? Although communication may be an issue, is there communication at all? Maybe it’s the delivery of the communication style that needs work, not the respect between family members.

3.)    Make a choice to alter the behavior.

This piece becomes complicated because it involves a lot of “stuff.” From here, the individual making the commitment to progress the family towards a healthier dynamic must make the decision and commitment to first alter their behavior and admit that, to some degree, part of how they interacted with the family contributed to the ongoing issues in the home. From the individual’s perspective, you may feel that you have done everything right, but in every conflict all engaging members share some of the blame-so start there. Second, begin to model the behaviors in the home and in the community. Don’t be quick to yell or blame others. Use coping skills when in a bad mood. Involve others in your struggles and allow others to help. It may not seem like a lot, but when people feel involved and irreplaceable, they tend to be more attentive and appreciative. Side note: For some families, contracting as a starting point for growth works. Some families simply do not know where or how to begin the process so developing a definitive starting point can sometimes help. Write up a contract stating that we are going to work towards a goal and have all the family members sign it. Sounds silly, but you can keep it as a reference and reminder of the commitment.

4.)    Map out what progress looks like.

How will the family know they are making progress? Write down the ideal family as the end goal and make subgoals that are achievable in the short run as well.  People like to make achievements. They want to know they are accomplishing something and the positive reinforcement gained from these accomplishments both motivates and encourages further achievement.

5.)    Maintain the progress.

Just because you’ve made your goals and achieved the milestones does not mean you’re in the clear. Continue with the maintenance portion. Families can easily slip back into maladaptive patterns because it is sometimes the path of least resistance. This piece requires that all family members be mindful of their thoughts and actions. Behavior is difficult to change because it can become engrained in our personalities. Therefore, if there is a pattern that you wish to see altered, you must make the commitment to be mindful when the behaviors begin to revert back.

If moving the family towards a specific goal is what a family is looking for these steps can help. However, the entire family must be onboard. The idea is not to make a family EXACTLY how you want it, but rather move the family towards a state of contentment that all family members can enjoy. The point is not to change anyone or fix the family. That is neither fair nor a realistic expectation. Rather, we want to work on behaviors and thought processes that the individual and family feel are maladaptive. Work together and listen to one another, you might be surprised with what you hear.

I’d like to hear some of the tips and tricks you use to motivate and maintain your family. Leave some suggestions in the comments box!

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