When you have children, everything changes. Suddenly, their well-being and happiness are your top priorities. You put in a lot of effort to make a life for them that they enjoy. How can you know whether it's working, though? Is your hard work paying off? How can you know whether your family is actually happy?
Read these indicators from Dr. Robin Berman, a psychiatrist and author of "Permission to Parent," and Kirk Martin, a behavioral therapist and founder of Celebrate Calm, to get an idea of how happy your family is.
Here are 7 characteristics that happy families have, and how they indicate a family's inner happiness:
1. You have a well-defined family structure
According to Dr. Berman, happy families have a healthy “top-down” behavioral structure. This isn't to say that all decisions are made solely by those in power. Instead, it suggests that if you notice strong personal qualities in your children, such as honesty or reliability, it's because you instilled them in them. And that's a win-win situation for everyone.
2. Your children are comfortable confiding in you
If your children and spouse feel safe to be truthful, you have a happy family. “Afraid children?” Dr. Berman responds, "They sneak." “They say things like, 'If I had told the truth, my mother would have gone insane!'” That is not a happy child. A cheerful youngster anticipates Mom's displeasure but does not hide from it, knowing that you will survive her poor grades or that one-time punishment, for example.
3. Your children have a strong sense of family identity
Families that are happy have a sense of “we.” When your kids and spouse say things like "We aren't frightened of a little hard work," or "Soccer is our thing," you know your family is happy. It could also be something relatively insignificant, such as "Our family like pizza." When you hear this, Dr. Berman says, you know your kids are content with their family identity, which is a big deal.
4. You Provide Your Children with the Resources They Need to Succeed
Martin believes that a happy family is one in which your preferred form of behavioral punishment gets you closer to your children rather than further away. “Rather than taking things away — which doesn't work anyway!” he says, “you give your child resources to succeed.” Your discipline should promote your children's emotional well-being by creating a bond, not a chasm, between you and them.
5. You Take Responsibility for Your Mistakes
Families in good spirits apologise. “Every parent makes a mistake now and then,” Dr. Berman adds, “but you model a decent apology to your children by telling them, for instance, that your message was wonderful, but your voice tone was through the sky, and you're sorry.” “You accept responsibility for your own part in difficulties, rather than shifting blame,” Martin adds, and this makes youngsters feel honored.
6. You adore each other, flaws and all.
When you like spending time with family members, you know they are happy. “You not only love, but you like your children – warts and all,” Martin explains. “You embrace your children as they are, not as the child you wished for or expected. You unwind and have a good time with them.” Children have an emotional need to be known inside and out — and to be loved regardless — and when that need is met, “happy” is an understatement.
7. Your Children Act With Kindness
Respectful tones are used by happy children. They treat you, caregivers, family, and even the pet with respect. “Everything may be said in a loving way,” says Dr. Berman. “All feelings are accepted, but not all manifestations of them.” So, while your child may be furious or even enraged, he may not let that anger influence his word choice. Respectful tones reveal contented hearts.
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