How would you define a supportive family? People’s opinion and understanding of a supportive family varies according to their culture, religion, or goals. Yet, most would agree that supportive families possess certain traits to qualify. Some characteristics commonly found within supportive families include open communication, mutual respect and admiration between family members, and forgiveness. Don’t lose hope if you notice that your family of origin lacks these traits.
Breaking free from abusive families and moving on to a healthier life brings specific challenges. At White House Recovery and Detox, we want to make this transition as easy as possible by helping you create the family system you deserve. By choosing recovery, you can create something different – something that works for you and that works for your children.
However, you may need help knowing and cultivating supportive family dynamics. Luckily, you can start the process today. For the reason of creating healthy family dynamics, White House launched our Toxic Family series to point our readers in the right direction and provide them with the tools they need to break the cycle of toxicity present in so many families. As you start or continue your recovery journey, know that this path often leads to living out a supportive family dynamic.
How a Supportive Family Differs From a Toxic Family
Dysfunction in a family can leave you feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and drained. They can make you doubt yourself, your abilities, and your value as a person. However, a supportive family won’t leave you feeling that way. Instead, they’ll lift you and encourage you to be the best version of yourself. Other differences between the two entail the following:
- Supportive families nurture an atmosphere of love and warmth. However, toxic families feed on fear or hate.
- Supportive parents may discipline their children when necessary, but they prioritize teaching and guiding their kids towards proper behavior. Alternatively, toxic parents prefer overly harsh and punitive measures with their kids. They may use shame or humiliation as tools to control behavior.
- In a supportive family, parents and children support each other’s autonomy and independence. Toxic families try to control each other’s thoughts and behaviors.
- In a supportive family, members respect each other’s boundaries and privacy. Conversely, toxic families often have blurred boundaries where members don’t respect each other’s privacy or limits.
The Importance of Having a Supportive Family
We require social interactions to function. This need for connection is hard-wired into our brains. When we feel connected, we feel loved and safe. And that feeling of safety and love makes us feel like we belong. For this reason, families provide a framework for socialization in which children learn about the importance of giving and receiving love from parents, siblings, and extended family members. Moreso, the importance of supportive families, include:
- Family members teach, serve, and share
- Parents and other family members serve as role models in engaging the world
- Family helps shape self-esteem and a sense of belonging for all members
- Provide support when we go through stress or fear
- They provide a stable base, emotional support, and daily structure to help every family member – especially children – flourish
However, with the many benefits of building a supportive family, you may also find specific challenges to its cultivation.
The Challenges of Building a Supportive Family
Henry Ford, an American industrialist, once said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is a success.” A well-oiled family resembles most functioning systems. Like most systems, families bring people together to fulfill a mission for the organization’s ultimate good – the ultimate mission of any family calls for love and support. However, like any sound system, supportive families face specific challenges to achieve their ultimate mission.
When building a supportive family system, you may experience the following challenges:
- Work-life balance: Parents who work full-time hours outside of the home may find it difficult to spend enough time with their children. Parents may lack enough energy to spend quality time with their children to pursue their career goals.
- Conflict with spouse: The demands of family life, like finances and external responsibilities, like one’s career, can put a strain on marriages. When disagreements between spouses go unresolved, they may cause problems with communication that can spill over into other areas of their lives, especially when raising children.
- Habits: Bad habits can interfere with building a support system for children. Our habits define how we work with others. Bad habits, such as smoking, can cause friction between loved ones. Too many harmful habits can impact the way children view their parents.
- Perspective: Perspective affects our relationships with others. We will better understand each other and develop stronger relationships by expanding our stands. To communicate more effectively, we must keep an open mind and consider alternative views.
Build This Supportive Family!
As you proceed with your recovery, know the process bestows you with many necessary tools and lessons to build a supportive family for yourself. Creating a supportive family starts with building inner wellness. Then, it leads to nurturing good relationships with your loved ones. The steps to building a supportive family include six factors:
#1. Supportive Families Express Warmth, Care, and Positive Reinforcement
Warmth, care, and positive reinforcement play a vital role in the health of all families. Such families prioritize exhibiting warmth with nurturing, communicative, and affectionate actions. Care arises when family members look out for one another, share responsibilities, and provide support. Positive reinforcement occurs when individuals feel recognized for their strengths and not reduced to their weaknesses.
To express such warmth, care, and positive reinforcement, consider the following actions:
- Show respectful affection: The healthiest families embrace affection as an essential part of their relationship. Such acts of physical affection respect each family member’s, including children, boundaries. We recommend hugs and cuddles to show your devotion to your children. These small acts go a long way in boosting your child’s self-esteem and confidence. Studies have shown that lack of physical affection between parents and children can harm mental and emotional development. Ultimately, by showing our children how much we love them, we set the standards for their future relationships.
- Praise and encourage the people in your family: Look for chances to recognize and support the achievements and progress of those around you. A supportive family builds each other up, especially through the hardships. Though a supportive family may have challenges, they recognize each other’s strengths and encourage them to strive towards their goals. Praise in the form of “I’m proud of you” or “That was great” may seem redundant. However, words speak volumes, especially from loved ones. If they make you proud, let them know. Most importantly, giving recognition will raise their self-esteem in time.
- Smile and make eye contact: Eye contact helps you engage with children, encouraging them to speak and listen. Children who feel heard and accepted usually grow into self-assured and confident adults.
- Spend quality time with each other: If you want to engage your whole family and give each person some one-on-one time, schedule activities that don’t require much preparation. Go for a walk, play cards or board games, or go to a movie. Essentially, allow everyone to feel essential. Spending quality time together will create a fun environment and connect family members of all ages.
#2. Supportive Families Thrive From Good Communication
Strong families communicate with each other: good communication entails listening and talking. Good communication strengthens the family bond. By talking openly and honestly, families can solve problems together and resolve conflicts. The process of good communication involves helping one another understand what we’re thinking and feeling. Most importantly, children feel safe when the adults around them communicate well.
The following suggestions can help you establish good communication:
- Encourage family members to talk to each other: To reduce tension in your family, encourage your loved ones to talk to each other. By allowing them to air their grievances and discuss the things that are bothering them, you can help reduce the stress level in your family and make it a happier place. To encourage your family, hold a meeting at which everyone has a chance to can share what went well and not so well during the past week or day.
- Encourage kids to share: Parents are responsible for helping their children learn how to express themselves effectively. It is recommended to teach them to identify their emotions. When they feel happy, angry, scared, or sad, they can tell their parents how they know what’s happening inside them.
- Active listening: When you talk with your family members, are you listening? Active listening means focusing on the conversation and giving your full attention to the speaker instead of thinking about what you want to say next or allowing yourself to get distracted by something else. To actively listen, pay attention to your body language (like making eye contact), and ask questions about what someone has just said to know you’ve heard them correctly.
#3. Understanding Family Conflict Resolution: How to Negotiate and Compromise
Negotiation strengthens relationships within family units. With negotiation, families can find solutions to or eliminate misunderstandings among family members and move forward in their lives. Negotiation helps people develop a better understanding of each other’s interests. Consequently, family members can work together to resolve problems and find solutions without conflict or hard feelings.
Consider these conflict-resolution tips when navigating the tension in your family:
- Think before you act: Take your time with sensitive issues, like conflicts. If you rush to express yourself or into a situation carelessly, you might hurt someone else. Pause and plan before tackling a conflict.
- Be open-minded: Although your opinions and ideas will not always align with someone else’s, show tolerance. By doing so, you might learn something from their perspective that encourages a resolution. Before you brush off someone else’s suggestions, take a step back and think about what they have to say.
- Compromise: When two or more parties compromise, they balance the expectations of each other to decrease conflict. To compromise successfully, all parties should do it calmly and rationally, considering what each person wants in the situation. Compromise produces a solution that can satisfy all parties involved.
- Choose empathy: Empathy helps us transform conflicts into meaningful conversations. It de-escalates conflicts because it establishes an understanding among involved parties. Being kind, compassionate, and understanding helps show empathy. Empathy takes sympathy a step further by involving action. We acknowledge that person’s pain and then try to understand what caused it and how we can help them move past it.
#4. Cultivating Predictable Environments
Predictability plays a vital role in a child’s growth, development, and family behavior. To have predictability, parents must create structure and boundaries for their children. For example, parents set up bedtimes for their children, establish healthy eating habits for breakfast and lunch, and create rules about screen time at home. By doing so, parents make sure that their children are secure and understand what is expected daily.
To develop a level of predictability, consider the following suggestions:
- Create a routine: Family routines give members a sense of structure, order, and mutual support. Some families create a chore list for the children and adults to establish set routines. Others devise a plan to share their schoolwork and extracurricular activities responsibilities. Ask each person to identify something they do well and use that talent to contribute to the family goal.
- Emphasize your family values: Each family’s set of values reflects a unique set of priorities for that family. Values refer to a group of principles and beliefs that guide and shape a family. For instance, by instilling values such as love, respect, and support, a family can create a strong family unit, especially for the kids. Additionally, children develop their values from watching their parents. For example, if a parent smokes, their children may find value in smoking. As such, supportive families take great precautions in the values instilled in their children.
- Joyful family traditions: Holidays and birthdays are great occasions to establish a family tradition. They provide the opportunity to celebrate the things that matter. Family rituals create a strong foundation for a family. They also provide adults with opportunities to reinforce parental values and improve the relationship between parents and children.
#5. The Importance of Social Networking for Families: Creating Healthy Communities
A strong family immerses themselves into their community. Healthy families expand their social network to include other healthy people. As families grow and develop, parents will encourage their children to engage in activities to strengthen their social skills.
To get started, consider the following:
- Pursue volunteering or social activism: Community service gives all children top-notch personal development, exposes them to new cultures, and helps them make good friends. Volunteering provides an opportunity for active participation. Volunteer acts such as cleaning up a park or organizing a fundraiser can show children how they too can improve their communities. Such an approach helps all family members, including the children, positively take ownership of their neighborhood.
- Stay in contact with extended family: Strong families nurture close-knit relationships with their extended relatives. They take the initiative to introduce their children to their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Research has shown that such kids are healthier and happier overall. They learn more about their history and culture. For instance, grandparents provide a window into the past for children, giving them a deeper appreciation for where they came from and what their future may hold.
#6. The Gift of Practicing Self-Care
Supportive families understand the importance of self-care. To avoid contributing to family toxicity, one should take time out for self-care. If one’s cup is empty, they have nothing to give others. It is essential to fill one’s cup with self-care activities. These activities include outdoor walks and listening to music. One can also practice meditation and yoga.
Learning Family Systems at White House
At White House Recovery and Detox, we value creating a familial atmosphere for our patients. It is never too late to reap the benefits of a supportive family system. Let our family of qualified addiction counselors support your recovery with our encouraging, no-nonsense approach to treatment. Furthermore, our family therapy program can teach you the dynamics of supportive families. Skilled clinicians will help you identify and resolve conflict in healthy ways, learn to listen with empathy, and express yourself with assertiveness. It is never too late to create the family of your dreams, especially as you embark on this recovery journey.
Supportive families promote the well-being of their members. They provide a space where each member is celebrated, nurtured, and guided to pursue their dreams. Perhaps, your family failed to provide you with the same. You can begin NOW to build the kind of family you want for yourself and your emerging family unit. At White House Recovery and Detox, we help individuals with addiction suffering from the trauma of a toxic family system find healing and hope. It’s never too late to seek the help that will change the course of your family system. At White House, we can help you achieve a supportive family system. We want to help you and your loved ones build a healthy, supportive family and learn what you must do to keep it going. Don’t let the weight of a toxic family stop you from recovering. To learn more about our nurturing, no-nonsense treatment program, contact us today at (800) 510-5393