Simply having a family doesn’t automatically make it a healthy one. There’s work involved and patience and vision. Here are a few things that come to mind when I think of what a healthy family includes.
In a healthy family, there’s love all around: love between the Mommy and Daddy, love individually and together from Mommy and Daddy to their children and back to Mommy and Daddy, and love between and among siblings. Things might not always be conflict-free, but there’s love a-plenty to go around and to help heal any emotional hurts that arise by nature of being in a family unit. The parents, as with everything, set the ball into motion by loving each other well and by loving their children well.
In a healthy family, there’s open communication: every member does a lot of talking and listening. Everything is balanced in this regard. Just because the parents are the parents doesn’t mean that they are the ones doing all the talking. Everyone seeks understanding (modeled by the parents), and to deepen one’s understanding, active listening is involved. I think this is hard for many parents because we think we know it all and think that we don’t have to listen to our children because they’re only children. But if we have this attitude, then we are sorely missing out on a valuable piece of the family puzzle-picture: giving everyone a chance to be heard and to have a voice that matters.
In a healthy family, there’s trust: we can trust each other. We feel like we belong—to this family and to each other. There is security in all forms—physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, financial, social, and professional (for example). Parents, of course, set the example in the trust department by tending to their children’s needs always and by meeting their wants within reasonable limits. Children learn from us, and in the area of trust, they are learning a key aspect of a healthy relationship when they can see what it looks like and feel how it feels like to be able to trust someone who has their best interest and well-being in mind and in their heart.
No person can ever be perfect, and no family is completely perfect. But we can take steps towards excellence with regards to having healthy dynamics in our family relationships. Love, communication, and trust are three areas in which we can take practical steps to strengthen our family bond.