A healthy family dynamic is a hard balance to strike. Family relationships are delicate and need to be tended to like all relationships in life.
There can be a tendency in family relationships to take siblings, parents and the like for granted. It’s generally understood that at the end of the day, your family will forgive you and be there for you no matter what.
Unfortunately, this is not always true. Family relationships are not always healthy and nurturing and in some instances, you may be better off without toxic family relationships in your life.
Here’s how to identify if your family relationships are healthy:
1. You give each other space.
Families that understand that people need space and privacy from one another are far more functional than those who do everything together. Whether it’s your parent, sibling, aunt or cousin, you should recognise people’s individual needs for space to maintain healthy family relationships.
There is no need to know everything about your family members and in the long run, privacy and space will help maintain relationships.
2. You make room for quality time together.
Families that put in the effort to make home life fun have healthier relationships. If all of your time together is spent doing chores or watching TV, then relationships can suffer. Getting outdoors, undertaking creative projects or playing games are great examples of quality time spent in healthy families.
3. You are there for each other in times of need.
Healthy family relationships blossom in times of crisis because it magnifies your commitment to one another. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable in front of family members will allow them to help you. This support network helps strong family relationships develop.
4. You share the load.
Families with healthy relationships share responsibilities and chores. Better yet, they share the workload with good will enthusiasm so that the burden doesn’t lie solely on one person. Chores can be divided based on people’s abilities and strengths.
If this doesn’t happen naturally, then many healthy families draw up a rota or system that balances the workload of a family home.
5. You integrate friends into your family life.
Families that involve other people often have strong, healthy relationships. Whether it be friends, neighbours or colleagues, having an inclusive attitude towards family life helps breed healthy relationships.
In contrast, an unhealthy family relationship will cultivate jealousy, insecurity, and stress. Whilst every family relationship will have its ups and downs there are some unhealthy relationship tropes that you should look out for.
1. It’s a manipulative dynamic.
If you find yourself in a family relationship where someone is trying to control you for their own gain, it may be time to reassess this relationship. Whether the manipulation is overt or covert, it will cause long-term damage to any relationship. Manipulation is a form of power play and may come into force when someone feels threatened by their role in the family.
For example, a father may feel his son is becoming too dominant within the family hierarchy as he gets older and may try to ‘put him in his place’ so he can remain top of the tree. This kind of behaviour can snowball and become more extreme, so it should be addressed early on.
2. There is always drama.
Some family relationships only function if there is ongoing drama. The reason for this is often because the relationship isn’t strong enough to endure a normal balanced life. It may feel too conventional or boring to one or both people in the relationship, which can cause some people to act in a destructive way.
This can also often happen in romantic partnerships, who rely on fighting to sustain passion. Whilst drama might make the relationship more interesting temporarily, it is unsustainable in the long run.
3. You cannot be alone.
A healthy family relationship can function within a group setting or by itself. If you need other people to distract from a relationship then it may be time to reassess. Avoid the temptation to find distractions from the relationship and try and focus on how you can improve your communication.
If you’re looking at the list and questioning the functionality of your own family relationships then this a positive sign. It’s good to reflect upon important relationships within your life and assess how you may improve them. Family relationships are worth nurturing even if they may be problematic, they provide a shared history and insight into your life that is worth valuing.
Many people end up regretting losing contact with family later in life because they hold the key to many childhood memories. Having said this, no relationship is a given and you shouldn’t tolerate harmful behaviour from someone just because they are a family relation.
Have the courage to step away from toxic relationships and focus on the people who respect you and enrich your life.
By Ruth N.