How is your relationship with your family?
If, like most millennials, you find ‘quality family time’ tumbling further down the priority list, then you’re not alone. While modern life leaves little time for ourselves let alone our families, it is important to carve that time out for those we love.
One of the biggest challenges facing most today is the breakdown of the family unit. Add the current coronavirus pandemic to the mix and families are even more vulnerable to disconnect.
The Importance of Family Values
In multigenerational families, the younger generation has greater power to encourage the strengthening of family bonds and to create healthier relationships between family members. All it takes is initiative and the art of leading by example.
The act of compromise
It’s true – relationships are a two-way street. Like with all quality relationships, there’s got to be a little give and take. Meaningful family connections start with making an effort. While it’s easier to sit back and wait for the other person to call us, taking the initiative to reach out and invite that connection is the only way to make it happen.
Millennials can’t leave it to their parents/grandparents to make all the effort in connecting when in isolation – they have to make an effort too. Not only does the effort of connecting with family encourage quality time, but it also sends the message that you care. It’s so easy to stop telling or showing our loved ones that we care for them. We assume they should know this already. But doing so builds connection and promotes positive relations. It forms a unity that can feel extra special in times of challenge – where all you need is someone in your corner to help you through.
49% of seniors plan on prioritizing their families post-COVID-19. Certainly, this pandemic has highlighted the importance of family connection even more. Quarantine rules, social distancing, and lockdowns have made our elderly more prone to feelings of loneliness and isolation. It has uncovered how much we rely on those we love to lift us up. Whether it’s our grandparents, parents, cousins, aunts & uncles – be the leader of your family and take initiative when it comes to creating connections between you all.
How you can encourage family bonding, even after divorce
The concept of “family values” doesn’t hold as strong as it once did. A bunch of socioeconomic factors has influenced this. From changes in family formation, divorce, household structure, work-life balance, wage gaps, and more, roles between family members have shifted and the “let’s get everyone together for Sunday roast night” is more likely to happen on a special occasion as opposed to a weekly tradition.
While it may not be as feasible to hold weekly dinners with the whole family (though it is encouraged!), there are multiple ways you can foster family connection as a millennial.
1. Ask – what does family mean to you?
As mentioned, ‘family values’ have lost their meaning over the years. One of the first steps to encourage connection between families is to understand what family is and means to you.
Family values include all the ideas of how you want to live your family life, what behaviors you accept, what principles you honor, and the function family plays in your life.
Whether you have a healthy or strained family relationship, think of how your family has shaped and defined you and how you can use this information to encourage deeper bonds and understanding. From there, you can establish a new set of family values that is based on what is truly important to you.
2. Create a family-oriented culture
Change cannot happen until you make it happen! Don’t wait around for the other members of your family to initiate communication. It all starts with you. This means leading by example and creating a household that is family-oriented. If you want togetherness then demonstrate togetherness by hosting a get-together or starting a group video chat or planning a family day out.
Once you’ve established your family values, you can become more intentional about your relations and encourage others to follow suit.
3. Introduce balance to your life
Lastly, millennials have a lot of barriers to creating family time. From work, social, and personal obligations it is too easy to put family on the backburner and tend to other priorities, first. This is where balance comes in. As the initiator, you need to learn to control your schedule and demonstrate how important family is to you. If you want your family to be close, if you want your grandparents to know how much they mean to you, then the greatest gift of care you can give is to loosen your grip on your schedule. Make time for family. Even if it’s a ten-minute phone call after your evening meal just to check in and say hi, every effort towards building family connections matters. And it will result in the forming of a strong home base where all members of the family feel included, connected, and valued.
Connect with your family today
The decision to strengthen connections between families is a noble one. It’s so easy to forget the importance family plays in living a healthy, happy life. Sure they can make you want to pull your hair out at times but there’s something beautiful in knowing that they are uniquely yours. As messy and as unpredictable as your family can be, there’s no one like them. Today is the day to make the decision to treat your family as a priority. To make small moments count, to provide encouragement to your vulnerable loved ones, to show you love them and care for them. These small acts of effort will lead to a lifetime of treasured moments. All relationships are hard work. But as busy as life gets, making the effort for those you love will have a huge boomerang effect on your mind, your health, and your life as a whole.