Jun 29, 2013

10 Ways to Strengthening Relationships in My Family

What can I do to strengthen the relationships in my family?


There's three generations of women in that picture, my grandma, two of her daughters, and me in the green hat and dress.  My mom is in the red hat beside me.  I'm actually wearing one of her hats.  Her oldest sister is in the straw hat with the peach ribbon.  And, grandma is in the blue with the blue hat.

I have good relationships with my mom and grandma, and an okay one with my aunt.  We all get busy with our lives.  I live out here in Maine, and they all live in Colorado.  So, how to strengthen relationships?

  1. Call weekly.  With grandma, I have to speak a little slower and louder, but I also speak fast, so that's doable, especially as she's close to 88 now.
  2. Write letters just because.  Grandma writes to her family, extended including cousins and their children, I think, often.  She thinks she doesn't write often enough, but I always tell her she writes more often than anyone else I know.
  3. Connect through FaceBook or some other social networking site.  My mom and I share Ravelry.  My aunt and I connect only through FaceBook, except when I visit.  Grandma was on FaceBook, but she has computer issues, so isn't now. A cousin and I connect through Twitter.
  4. Skype.  It's free, video chatting, phone calls.  You just need to set up an account.  I use it to connect with my friends in distant places.  We don't always use the video function.  You have the option of whether to use it or not.
  5. Email.  It's quick, simple and you can write and rewrite without using a lot of paper.  You can also keep a record of your emails if you wish.  
  6. Blog.  A blog is a great way to update an entire extended family all at once about the comings and goings in your life.  Blogger, the program I use to blog this through, is super easy to get started with and free, so is WordPress.com  WordPress.org is not a free version, but you get to use your own domain name, like cathseeker.com, instead of cathseeker.blogpress.com
  7. Hang out together.  Whether it's family game night, or just watching movies together, time spent together is good.
  8. Date nights.  These are great with your spouse or significant other, but don't just have to be with them.  Take your mom on a date.  Where would she like to go for dinner or lunch with her child?  Special one on one time with the folks important to you is key to good relationships too.
  9. Reunions.  Family reunions are a great way to catch up with family you don't normally see or interact with except in the cyber world.  What's great aunt Josephine doing now? That sort of thing.
  10. Tell the folks you care for how you feel about them.  Don't assume they know, sometimes they won't know without being told.  Great providers are giving acts of service as their love language, but the people they are trying to show love to may not have acts of service as a need and so don't feel the love.  K has acts of service as a love language, while I have gifts/physical touch as a love language.  When we figured out our different love languages and had the vocabulary to talk about it, we had a much easier time of feeling the love we were getting.  
That last bit is from the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  If you are interested in reading more, check out the Wikipedia article.