Fixing the Family

Family. It’s what life and love is all about. Sure, things can fall apart from time to time. You’ve realized you haven’t talked to your spouse in three days, your children say they hate you, and the closest thing to quality time with your family is when you’re all in the same room—but preoccupied with Facebook, texting or watching the game. Is it really a big deal? Well, here’s a shocker: Reports show a decline in two-parent households with only about 64 percent of families that are fully intact, according to the Forum on Child and Family Statistics.

In some cases, divorces can be preventedand families can recover. Whether your family is on the verge of a complete meltdown or attitudes just need a little adjusting, use these tips and techniques to correct common household dampers. If your family is willing to put in a little time and effort toward building healthier attitudes, your family can thrive.


Spousal Relations

Healthy attitudesstart with you and your significant other. Bad relations with a spouse can carry into a workplace, decline your health and can have unwanted effects on your child’s behavior. A healthy and happy attitude toward one another—if only in the presence of children—should be of utmost importance. If the attitudes you have toward each other are teetering on the side of being unsalvageable, trying to fix it may be your only option.


If you find yourself on a different page than your significant other, lack of communication could be plaguing your relationship. Make sure you’re giving them undivided attention on a daily basis and insist they give you theirs. Not surprisingly, many marital problems arise when communication is put on the back burner. It’s easy to miss something important and difficult to connect when you’re only half in the conversation, so drop the distractions and interact.


If arguing becomes a regular occurrence, try establishing some ground rules.

  • Never interrupt each other. Cutting each other off can cause frustration and leads arguments to a dead end.

  • Listen and show them you’re listening. You might find that letting the other person finish their idea can result in fewer misunderstandings.

  • Ban phrases such as “you never…” or “you always…” These phrases foster resentment and defensiveness. Don’t cross the line.

  • Screaming matches aren’t helpful. The brain doesn’t necessarily comprehend better the louder you speak, so find a public place to help the situation remain civilized.


No one likes to nag about chores, and no one likes to be nagged about it. With many households requiring a source of income from both parents, equally dividing chores and completing them can be a challenge (not to mention taking care of the children). However, it can save a marriage from a heap of resentment in the long run. Plus, less clutter and confusion leads to less “Mom, where’s my right shoe?” catastrophes.

Start by making a list of all the household chores. Take into account how many times a week or month they need to be done, how long it takes to complete and the difficulty of each task. Combine your preferences. Maybe you’d rather do lawn work than vacuum the floors and vice versa. If chores are single-handedly breaking your marriage, find a little wiggle room in the family budget for a cleaning service. It could be worth it.

When to Seek Professional Help

Don’t be embarrassed or feel shameful of seeking marriage counseling when arguments can’t be resolved or if things get out of control. It can help resolve conflicts and other underlying problems within your relationship so you can either rebuild the relationship or agree to go separate ways.



Raise The Bar

Children of all ages can present parenting challenges. Younger children undoubtedly take the cake for fits of tempers, kicking, biting and screaming, while older teenagers can crawl under your skin and tear you apart with their attitudes. But how exactly do you treat hostile behavior without projecting hostility yourself?

When it comes to parenting, some people misinterpret the concept of discipline. Discipline encompasses more than just scolding and punishing bad behavior; it involves teaching a child the proper way to conduct themselves. Effective discipline, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, is applied with mutual respect in a firm, fair, reasonable and consistent way.

The outcome of discipline should:

  • Protect the child from danger

  • Help the child learn self-discipline

  • Develop a healthy conscience and a sense 
of responsibility and self-control

  • Instill values

Fighting fire with fire isn’t healthy and may only stop a behavior temporarily—not permanently. For example, screaming at your child for screaming may stop them from screaming for a moment, but the child may also learn that whoever is louder wins.

Try positive discipline instead.

It focuses on responding to a child’s behaviors in a calm, respectful but firm way instead of using anger (hitting, yelling, etc.) to combat bad behavior and encourage good behavior. Each child is unique, and there isn’t a one-style-fits-all solution; however, the technique of positive discipline may fit your household nicely. Here’s how to practice it with tips from Purdue University.

Develop mutual respect.

Every parent wants a child who minds, and every child wants to feel like they belong. Understand that your needs and your child’s needs should carry mutual importance. For example, respect your own needs by modeling firmness and control of the situation. Respect your child’s by using kindness—not anger to show your child the correct behavior.

Even teenagers need mutual respect. Several studies show that teens who view their parents as both kind and firm are at lower risk for smoking, use of marijuana, use of alcohol or being violent and have a later onset of sexual activity.

Identify the cause.

Dig deeper and diagnose the reason why a child is behaving a certain way. Are they lacking something emotional (attention, affection, etc.), or are they lacking something physical (exhaustion, hunger, etc.)? Little changes in a routine or belief can help foster good behavior, according to the positive discipline theory.

For example, you notice that your child consistently acts out when you’re on the phone. Could it be the need for your attention, whether it’s good or bad? A simple fix could be something as simple as spending one-on-one time to show your child that gaining your attention in a negative way isn’t necessary.

Communicate clearly, and use logic in your reasoning.

Set ground rules that are appropriate for your child’s age, clearly communicate the boundaries and explain what the consequences are for crossing those boundaries.

For example, teenagers don’t exactly benefit from a timeout after breaking curfew. Instead, discuss the curfew, explain why it’s in effect, come to an agreement on the time and make sure they understand the consequences of breaking it. Sometimes, a little effort and democracy can go a long way.

Focus on teaching, not punishing.

A child’s brain is naturally curious, so feed it. Teaching good behavior is much easier than trying to correct bad behavior later. For example, teaching selflessness by getting your child involved with volunteering will most likely be easier than trying to break them of selfishness later.

The use of punishment is inevitable; besides, they’re only human. However, the punishment you use should be something of value. Make it a teachable moment. Corporal, or physical, punishment is a technique that should always be avoided. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not endorse this type of punishment because it can make children more aggressive, can become violent and harmful and can cause a child to believe it’s OK to physically hurt someone you love.

Encourage, don’t praise.

Praise can actually be damaging and can wire children to think that someone’s approval is always needed. Instead, use encouragement. It builds self-esteem and empowers children on a long-term scale. The goal is to make children feel worthy of themselves.


Quality Time

One of the greatest benefits of being part of a family is spending time with one another. When you look back, it’s the memories you made with them that will matter the most. Make time for each other and explore a variety of family activities that will strengthen your family’s bonds. If you’re stumped on new ways to interact with your family, check out these fun ideas.

Get involved

Spend time together by giving your time to charity. Whether it’s scooping soup for the homeless, walking dogs at the local shelter or helping build homes for low-income families, get out of the house and help! Volunteering brings your family together, instills values and feels rewarding.

Movie enthusiasts: For families, the historical Ocala Drive-In is a great option for catching a new release, and it’s one of only seven that are still open in Florida. Admission is half the price of a regular theater and allows you to watch from the comfort of your vehicle. No need for dressing up the kids or worrying about shushing them. Perfect!

Get things cooking:Hey, those taters aren’t going to peel themselves! Take something as simple as making dinner and turn it into quality time. Make sure to involve all members of the family with duties respective to their capabilities and age. Your picky eaters may even learn to enjoy their food a little more!

Adventure junkies: Grab your bicycles and hit the trails. It’s hard not to have fun when your body is producing mood-lifting endorphins. Plus, exercising is more fun when you’ve got your pack along. Last one back’s a rotten egg!

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