As our kids enter the tween and teen years, the importance of having an emotionally healthy homes seems to spike. While creating a home that is emotionally stable has always been crucial, as parents we can now clearly see the effect on our teenagers. A home that is emotionally stable provides security, a place to learn and grow and the foundation for a healthy life. So what are we striving for as parents. What are the traits of emotionally healthy families? What does an emotionally home look and feel like? Here are 10 habits of emotionally healthy families.
10 Characteristics of Emotionally Healthy Families
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This is not an exhaustive list. But to get us steered in the right direction here are 10 elements that are present in emotionally healthy families. We are not aiming for perfection, but more an awareness of our actions and thoughts and how they are affecting our family.
Emotionally Healthy Families Share Feelings
Years ago, I worked at an agency that helps those affected by domestic and sexual violence. I still remember one woman describing the household she grew up as a shark tank. Any sign of feelings, weakness or crying was like blood in the water. She told of how you never wanted to appear weak in any way otherwise you were going to be attacked verbally and emotionally.
What a horrible environment. It still makes me sad when I think about it.
We want our kids to feel safe to share. This may require different actions from members of the household. This may include:
- Making time to listen to others
- Validating our kid’s feelings
- Putting aside our own feelings in order to help a family member in crisis
- Allowing a variety of emotions to be expressed, even it they are hard to hear
Creating a home where it is safe to share feelings does NOT include saying everything you want or allowing one person’s emotions to be the only opinion that is expressed.
Emotionally Healthy Home has Weekly Connections
You have probably read all the studies about the importance of having dinner together as family. How can sitting down for 20 minutes together to eat really make such a difference?
I’m just throwing this thought out there, but do you think it has more to do with the fact that it is a connection point BUILT INTO the week. It is a habit. And when we make connection points a habit, then those times of coming together are going to happen.
What does your family do to connect? Does it happen daily or weekly? Are your family bonding times built around a habit so they are likely to happen without too much additional effort on your part?
Here is a list of 10 Ways to Bond as a Family.
As our kids get older, family schedules can get a bit crazy. So taking into consideration your family’s schedule, look for those times when you can connect as family and then BUILD a HABIT around it!
Emotionally Healthy Teenagers are Encouraged to Develop Interests
There is something wonderful about being part of a family, but also being appreciated for what you uniquely bring to that unit.
To create an emotionally healthy home, we want our kids to both learn to work together AND to appreciate others giftings. Model this for your kids by expecting the same standards from everyone but give room for unique expressions.
For example, you may want your kids to care for others. One of your kids may do this by interacting with others and befriending them. While your other teen may prefer to make food or “do” something for a family in need.
We can also encourage our kids to develop their interests by allowing our tweens and teens to explore educational or sport opportunities that perhaps we don’t understand.
Read here for 6 Simple Ways to Help Teens Discover Their Interests.
Encouraging our kids to develop their interests can actually be great fun! It is so amazing to see the wonderful creativity that explodes in our kids when they are given permission to become their own person!
A Healthy Home is Organized
Now, I’m not talking about immaculate HGTV worthy homes. I simply referring to creating a home that is organized enough that we aren’t living in chaos. We want to have homes that function well for OUR family. And we want to have homes where we are free to invite others over.
Read tips on Developing a Cleaning Style that Encourages Friendships!
Does your family have built-in cleaning and organizing habits? Do you clean and declutter a little as you go? Or are you feeling so overwhelmed that instead of your home being a useful tool, it is sucking all the mental and emotional energy out of you?
Take the first step toward decluttering your scariest area of your house! Psst…see my scariest area here that I’m tackling this week!!
Everyone has Jobs in an Emotionally Healthy Home
In an emotionally healthy family teenagers have jobs and help to contribute. In our society work is sometimes looked down upon. But having work is vital. Work gives a purpose, helps us learn new skills, adds to our confidence and allows us to have areas of authority.
Moms, we want our kids to help, right? But we also want our children to gain confidence, job skills and to desire to contribute.
So however you decide to split up the work load, make sure that your kids are learning how to run a household and gradually taking over more control of areas of the household as they grow.
My daughter is loving this paycheck printable for kids I downloaded here. She is working so much harder to receive that slip at the end of the week tallying up everything she did so she can earn her “full paycheck”.
Parents Work Together as a Team in a Healthy Home
In an emotionally healthy home, parents work together as a team.
Typically one parent is more permissive while the other parent is slightly stricter. So this means that often we may disagree with our spouse’s decision when it comes to parenting.
But if we remember that our kids will GREATLY benefit if they see a united front, it can help us to compromise on parenting decisions.
It is very destructive if one parent continues to allow kids to get away with stuff. The other, more strict, parent often backs up, resentful that their authority is constantly taken away. So instead of a united front with parents confidently leading the kids, you have kids in the middle and parents on their separate sides.
I literally see this in classes all too often, as the division in the family is very obvious by the teens year. The teens are chatting with the often overwhelmed permissive parent and the other parent is there, but not interacting. The permissive parent feels stressed by their entitled kids and wonders why the other parent never helps. And the stricter parent feels rejected and often acts like they reject their own kids.
It can be really hard to compromise. I KNOW. But the outcomes for our kids is far worse if we don’t learn to compromise.
Emotionally Healthy Families Share Faith
As a Christian, I believe that faith is vital. And while I believe that there are certain Truths that are non negotiable, I have seen this matter of faith played out in a variety of ways in families. So follow me for just a minute.
Ideally, parents agree on what they believe and share that faith. They participate in a church or activities reinforcing what they say they believe with genuine actions. So an emotionally healthy home is free of hypocrisy. Words match up with actions. And their faith in God strengths and unites the family members.
Sometimes, parents don’t agree. This is naturally going to cause tension when you have kids. But I have seen some remarkable women walk out their difference of faith in such a way that sought to bond their family and not cause unnecessary stress.
These women are following their faith, in church with their kids. But they also participate in areas that their spouse find important. And you won’t hear them talk negatively about their spouse for not sharing their faith, though I’m sure it brings pain.
So however, you need to walk this out in your home, try to make choices that follow your faith AND negate unnecessary division.
Healthy Families are Emotionally Connected
No one gets to just check out emotionally in a healthy home. As mentioned above, in a healthy home everyone is working together. So sometimes one parent is going to be with the kids more, while another parent is outside the home earning the majority of the money. But no one gets a free pass to just check out emotionally.
Unfortunately, I see families where this is evident. And sadly, it does a number on the kids. Feelings of anger, rebellion and depression in teenagers seem to be bi products of this parent behavior.
Naturally, kids may feel closer to one parent over the other. And some parents feel better equipped to handle and discuss emotions. But even if that is NOT your gifting, don’t just check out emotionally. Stay in the game. Your kids need YOU!
Emotionally Healthy Families have Boundaries & are Free from Abuse
We are all imperfect people, so no family is going to be perfect. However, an emotionally healthy home has good boundaries. This may include:
- Taking responsibility for thoughts and feelings
- Being aware of ones actions and how it affects others
- Clear household rules and expectations
- Consistent consequences
- Reward and affirmation for positive behavior
On the flip side, abuse is about a person trying to control others INSTEAD of controlling themselves. Abuse almost always starts with verbal abuse including: put downs, threats, name calling and belittling. A toxic home may also include a stark imbalance in power where one spouse has all the power.
And of course abuse includes physical abuse including: pushing, shoving, hitting, slapping, holding down or harming with a physical object.
Though the abuse may not happen everyday it is still very damaging. Abuse brings great stress, as the members of the household live under the constant THREAT of abuse, never knowing when the next explosion is going to occur.
Emotionally healthy families strive to develop healthy boundaries and to be intolerant of abusive behavior.
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Healthy Families Laughs Together
Laughter and humor is so important! As we enter the tween and teen years, there are plenty of times when we will have to tell our kids no. We will disagree.
So to create balance we need to have many occasions when we laugh together. Enjoying one another builds closeness and makes our homes a fun place to be.
So what is one emotionally healthy trait that YOUR family is totally rocking? If you could work on one area as a family what would that be? Comment and share below! I love to hear from you all:)