No two families are the same and definitely, no two dynamics are the same, but some families get along better than others. And if you're the person who has been longing for the reason others get along while looking askance at your own bickering brood, we hope this will help. The differences can come down to several possible factors, each having the power to bring groups of loved ones together or drive them apart.
Family issues can be complicated, but a few changes in how we approach one another could make a big difference. Here are a few reasons, simplified.
According to Dr. Daniel S. Lobel in Psychology Today, a cooperative attitude is vital to a happy household. Family members who spend more time scrutinizing than building each other up eventually alienate one another and weaken the bonds between them. Cooperation fosters an environment of unity, safety and security, whereas competition leaves family members stepping over one another for resources and fending for themselves when issues arise.
Family members who treat one another with respect help to keep the household peaceful and happy. A positive attitude can go a long way toward setting the right tone, and how we treat others can profoundly impact the way they treat us. Conversely, people who engage in rivalrous behavior create an atmosphere of spite and negativity as if the resources of the family are intended not to be shared but to be claimed. Instead of support and sharing generously with one another, this type of family creates an environment that sets everyone up to be combative and miserable.
Our level of emotional flexibility often dictates the attitudes we adopt. Flexibility in romantic partners leads to increased overall satisfaction in relationships, creating fewer attachment issues, less avoidance and increased emotional supportiveness. Flexible parents have better adaptive strategies, raise better-adjusted children and experience stronger family cohesion.
Families in which all members believe in fair and equal treatment are more apt to get along than those who favor certain individuals over others. A household with multiple standards and varying expectations opens the doors to resentment. Taking the time to ensure everyone feels they have an equal role in the family (from infancy through adulthood) may give members the assurance they need to remain active, happy participants.
We’re all only human, and we all make mistakes. But how we approach our family members when they’ve wronged us, or how we proceed after we’ve wronged others, can have a lasting impact on our dynamic. A judgmental environment that's loaded with criticism can damage self-esteem and foster feelings of bitterness and distrust. Focusing instead on honesty, integrity and transparency can pave the way for more honorable motivations and greater trust. As above, lifting others up rather than pointing out all of their foibles is key to fostering good feelings.
Family dynamics can be complicated, but there are ways to steer ourselves and our loved ones in positive directions. Ultimately though, we inherit far more than eye color from our families. We build our own happiness or dysfunction, but we only know how to build with the tools we’ve received from our own original families. As we build our own we can make different choices. Happiness begins by pinpointing our own dysfunctions and doing what we can to be positive and productive human beings, for ourselves and one another.
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