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Thursday, February 23, 2012

10 Tips for Family Unity

by Linda McQuinn Carlblom

A family is a close-knit unit. As such there should be a sense of unity, a certain team spirit, if you will. But family unity does not happen on its own. It's nurtured, grown, and fought for. So how does a family build this kind of camaraderie? Here are 10 tips to get you started.
  1. Play together. Make time to just have fun. Play board games or the Wii. Go to the park. Have silly contests. Laugh. Tickle. Share a hobby.
  2. Support one another's interests. Go to each others' plays, concerts, games, work picnics, and science fairs.
  3. Celebrate achievements. Or better yet, celebrate the person who achieved something. Let them know you're proud of them and acknowledge their hard work.
  4. Pray for each other. Share needs with each other. Pray together as well as individually. Tell family members you're praying for them.
  5. Be kind to each other. Say you're sorry when you're wrong. Say please and thank you. Share. Offer to help. Use common courtesy. Express appreciation. Let others go first. Build one another up. Don't allow insulting humor or name calling.
  6. Stick up for each other--whether the person you're sticking up for is there or not.
  7. Eat together. At breakfast, hear what others have on their schedule that day. Then you'll know how to pray for them. At dinner, let each person tell about their day. Ask open ended questions like, "What was the best thing that happened to you today?" "The worst?" "Most surprising?" "Funniest?"
  8. Respect each other's individual personalities. Some people are born talking, laughing and commanding the room's attention. Others are quiet, thoughtful, observant. Both are wonderful. Accept the different personalities in your family. Acknowledge the good parts of each one. Let everyone be themselves without judgment. Throw a compliment party where everyone shares one thing they love about each family member.
  9. Work together. Teamwork is often built during hard work, just as character is built through adversity. So paint the house together, do yard work, hold a garage sale, visit the sick, repair equipment, cook meals, clean the house. People, even young ones, need to feel needed and that they have a useful purpose.
  10. Guard your family time. Life is busy. So make sure you carve out time simply to chill as a family. If you're invited to an event, you don't have to go just because nothing else is on the calendar. Reserve time to do nothing together. Even if you're doing your own things in separate rooms, it's nice to listen to the sounds of your family all under one roof at the same time.
Bonus tip: Come up with a phrase to say to your family members whenever they leave the house. It may become a hallmark of your family. A friend's father used to tell them as they left, "Remember--you're a Smith." It carried a certain responsibility that they uphold their good family name while they were out with their friends.

Family unity often takes deliberate focus. You may want to have a family meeting and discuss what rules your family wants to live by. Then post them for all to see. Or list the characteristics you want your family to have, the kind of people you want to be for each other. When you see your kids living out your family creed, you'll know it was worth the effort.

How does your family create a stong bond of unity? Which of these ideas would you like to put into practice? What's a good hallmark phrase for your family?

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