8 Secrets of Happy Families
Try these ways to enjoy one another's company more; to have more fun; and to be, well, happier.
Clean Up as a Clan
Who knew that excavating the garage together could yield more than ten-year-old paint cans? Doing chores as a family can be a major bliss booster. You work, you talk, you get closer. "Children might grumble when they're helping wash dishes or sort laundry, but these things create a sense of achievement and connection," says Stinnett. Even running everyday errands with your child, whether walking the dog or going to the gas station, can provide short but sweet bonding time.
Enhance One Another's Ego
If you want to build team spirit, encourage your family to be cheerleaders. In a survey of 150 families conducted by Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, those who seemed most content -- and had the most fun together -- also expressed their support most often. They exchanged compliments in public and private and generally rooted for one another. "When parents went to their kids' sporting events, for instance, they took the younger siblings along instead of leaving them with a sitter," says Rutgers's Susan Newman, Ph.D. "The message is 'We're here for one another.'"
You can foster this kind of alliance just by keeping everyone up-to-date on one another's lives, says Michele Borba, author of Building Moral Intelligence: The Seven Essential Virtues That Teach Kids to Do the Right Thing. The more your kids know about their siblings' schedules, the easier it is for them to say, "Good luck on your test" or "Don't worry. I was scared on the first day of school too."