Updated: Sep 20
Positive parenting and strong family connections don't happen by accident. Connected families have people who take on responsibility for engaging with each other, repairing mistakes, and working on improving the relationships.
What are the factors needed to build a strong family relationship?
This parenting therapist (that's me!) thinks
Three qualities you need to build a strong family relationship are:
1. be playful
2. be gameful
3. be curious
Spend time with your family doing things that are not for any extrinsic reward. Be spontaneous, creative, and playful. This might mean playing board games, or helping your kiddo download the latest Minecraft mod. Try to say yes whenever you can to more play, more free time, more recreation.
Gamefulness is different than playfulness. Think about playing a video game - there are big tasks, big bosses, and it can often be difficult to progress. But in games, we conquer levels, use resources, and keep trying again and again. We look for teammates, creative solutions, and even enjoy the process of messing up and having to start over. We call this a challenge mindset, and it can apply to just about every parenting situation. Try to incorporate gamefulness in your family to get through tough times.
If you are wondering how to strengthen your family relationship, one of the biggest pieces of advice I can give you is to be curious. Be a curious parent. Look at what your kids are interested in, and be curious about why. Connect with your kids through their interests and being interested in them. If they express big feelings, be curious about what their experience is like. Curiosity helps us avoid defensiveness or taking their attitudes or temper tantrums too personally.
If parents can model this curiosity to your kids, it will help your kids learn all sorts of things from you as well! It will help them to see you as human, help them understand family patterns, and make conscious decisions as they get older.
Write letters to your children
One of my favorite parenting techniques for more connection is to write your kids letters. As a narrative therapist, I am a big fan of letter writing. There will be stories you want to share with them that they might not be ready for and writing it down and saving for later can ensure that they have it to read when it's appropriate. It also means they can read and re-read it, which gives so many more opportunities for understanding and connection.
This journal, Child of Mine, has 25 prompts on paper ready to tear out and gift to your kids. It's a wonderful way to build an even stronger family relationship.
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Roya Dedeaux is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with several decades of working with teens and their families. She especially loves to work with homeschoolers and folks who feel like they don’t quite “fit the mold.” She is also the author of Connect with Courage: how to release fear and find joy in the places your kids take you. Check out her work, webinars, games, and other projects at www.royadedeaux.com
For more ideas for your own creative exploration or playful parenting, check out my Patreon. For just $1.00/month you get access to journal prompts and podcasts. Each tier provides even more!