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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Characteristics of happy families

In the opening line of Leo Tolstoy's classic novel Anna Karenina, he writes, "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."  Truer words were never spoken.  Whether in 1873 (when Tolstoy penned the phrase) or 2013, characteristics of happy families are timeless.

What could be considered characteristics of happy families today?

1. Respect.  Every member of the family is important.  Disrespectful behavior and actions are not acceptable by children nor parents.

2. Put family first.  There are always outside influences that pull at the heart of the family but the needs and consideration of the family is foremost in their minds.

3. Accept.  Not one member of the family is perfect although all are trying to improve themselves every day.  Acceptance of each member, flaws and all, contribute to happiness in the family.

4. Communicate.  Being able to communicate openly with family members keeps misunderstandings from building into huge conflicts.  Having Family Councils or Family Meetings frequently gives everyone a voice in family matters.

5. Support.  Knowing that your family "has your back" helps in dealing with difficulties outside the home and builds unity inside the home.

6. Pray together.  Religious families have a framework with which to build their family on, based on principles of love, kindness and service.

7. Service.  Helping other people brings families closer together, and decreases feelings of selfishness.

8. Build family traditions.  Every family has unique traditions that help bond the family and create lasting memories.  These don't have to be elaborate nor expensive, just things that your family identifies as their own.

As no family is perfect, these are things to work on and improve in our families.  Luckily, we have the ability to change and adopt techniques that strengthen rather than weaken our families.  Characteristics of happy families have stood the test of time.   They work.