8 Secrets of Happy Families
Try these ways to enjoy one another's company more; to have more fun; and to be, well, happier.
Nurture a Spiritual Side
Whether or not they follow an organized religion, happy families tend to spend time reflecting on gratitude and blessings. Doing that out loud in the evenings with sons Nic, 8, and Zak, 5, is the most rewarding part of Sue Lewis's day. "The kids are totally spontaneous, and it's always interesting to see what's on their mind," says the Grand Rapids, MN, mom. "They offer thanks for something good that happened at school or ask for blessings for other family members who are having a hard time. We learn so much about one another after sharing our concerns out loud. I think it keeps us all close."
Hand Out the Hugs
Anyone who's ever had a massage or been comforted by an embrace knows what a powerful force touch can be. "Strong families show a lot of physical affection," says Stinnett. "Touch communicates -- and nurtures -- connection. Even a simple pat on the back at a difficult moment can strengthen the bond." And don't underestimate the power of silly displays of affection, like rubbing noses or trading butterfly kisses. In my house, it's the Great Big Good Morning Hug: My kids, 4-year-old A.J. and 6-year-old Mathilda, refuse to budge from bed until they get one.
Look for Laughter
You don't have to learn new knock-knock jokes. "Humor isn't about consciously trying to be funny," says Eyre. "It's really about creating a light, 'life is good' atmosphere at home." Some of the most irritating moments -- three cups of spilled juice in a row, crayons melted on car upholstery -- can become your family's funniest, most cherished stories in years to come. The other day, A.J. and Mathilda ended up covered in finger paint during a playdate at a friend's house. I had a choice:
I could get upset (their new clothes got drenched in blue and green paint) or I could joke about how they were walking works of art. That night, we all went home laughing.
Charlotte Latvala is the author of Baby's First Year Workbook and The Expectant Mother's Workbook.