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Five Tips for Family Happiness
Families are very important. We saw a dramatic example of this following the horrific tragedy of September 11. 2001. Feeling scared and vulnerable, millions of Americans retreated to their families. For most of us, whether we are 2 or 92, our family is our safe harbor. So this month I'm presenting several important tips on how to enjoy a happier, more rewarding family life.

Do you ever wonder why some families are happier than others? And do you ever wonder why other families seem to experience so much unhappiness?

It stands to reason that if we could find out what makes families successful, we would have the secret to enhance our own family's circumstances.

Well, thanks to new research, we now know what distinguishes many happy families from unhappy ones. By comparing the circumstances of families that thrive and those that don't, researchers have discovered some significant differences between the two groups. Below, I have listed five of those differences.

Happy Families Have Parents Who Endorse Each Other
In happy families, parents validate each other as parents. This means each parent communicates to the children that the other parent is a good person who deserves love and respect. Each parent encourages the children to love, respect, obey and admire the other parent.

In unhappy families, parents tend to bad-mouth each other to their children. They communicate the faults of the other parent to their children, and in this way, they undermine each other's authority.

Happy Families Value the Extended Family
Happy families stay connected with their relatives. They communicate, and they plan get-togethers with grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, no matter where they live.

Unhappy families lose touch with their extended families. The children don't know their relatives – their names, their ages, their careers. Family pride just doesn't seem to exist in unhappy families.

Happy Families Plan Fun
Happy families set aside time to have fun together. Families that do well value this time so much that they build it into their schedule. Unhappy families never seem to have the time to enjoy each other, and rarely make plans for fun.

Happy Families have Parents Who Give Compliments
The members of happy families compliment each other and show their appreciation for one another. Parents model this behavior, and then children copy their parents. Compliments such as the following are often heard in happy families:
  • 'That was a great dinner.'
  • 'Thanks for helping out.'
  • 'What a wonderful idea!'
  • 'You are so thoughtful.'
  • 'What a big girl you are.'
  • 'You look nice in your new dress.'
Unhappy families rarely take the time to give compliments. In fact, research has shown that the happier people are, the more compliments they give to others.

In Happy Families, Parents Watch Their Language
Happy families avoid abusive language. They're careful about what they say to each other and how they say it. They don't beat each other up with cutting words, sarcasm or swearing. If someone needs to be criticized, the criticism is not communicated in an insulting way.

In unhappy families, people say whatever comes to mind when they're upset. They're almost oblivious to how powerful and damaging words can be to the feelings and self-esteem of other family members.

Of course, these are not the only qualities that distinguish happy families from unhappy ones. That's why, in another article, I'll present five more examples of how both sets of families differ from each other. Hopefully, these insights will inspire you to make your family the happiest it can be.
Kenneth N. Condrell Ph.D Child Psychologist