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Improving the quality of the family in 2010

Published:Monday | January 25, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Taniesha Burke, Contributor

POSITIVE Parenting

AS WE forge into 2010, the happiness of our family and, specifically, our children, is an important factor in the numerous New Year's resolutions we make. We anticipate a year filled with experiences of growth, which will benefit each family member.

The family unit, as a structure, has the ability to build or destroy the individuals within it. Tremendous commitment by all is required for the family to be successful in achieving a healthy and positive environment.

How you achieve and maintain this on a long-term basis may at first seem a difficult and daunting task for some, especially for parents whose time is stretched between long hours at work and/or school. All is not lost, however. There are daily actions which parents can take to achieve this goal.

Being proactive is the first step in building and maintaining strong positive relationships between family members. It means that as the parent, you will need to be the first to move away from reacting to emotions and situations. As a parent, you need to make an effort to monitor your thoughts and actions in your various interactions with each family member. This, in itself, may be a challenge, as many of us have been conditioned to react to events instead of actively working towards the experiences we desire.

Resolving this includes enjoying each moment, while keeping the desired goal in mind. In conflict situations, being proactive requires pausing during a heated moment to assess the root of your reaction before responding. This, in itself, takes discipline and determination. The ability to be aware of your own actions and their causes will allow you to make better decisions. These balanced decisions will significantly improve the quality of your relationships with each family member.

Proactivity also involves making a deliberate effort to remove negative words such as "can't" and "won't" from your and the family's vocabulary.

These words adversely affect the quality of interactions between members. To be proactive requires accepting the situation and the person as he or she is, while finding desirable alternatives to the behaviour or action.

Being proactive also involves remembering to exhibit kindness to each other. It may be a surprise, but if we honestly take an inventory of our daily interactions with family members, we may realise that we have not said "thank you", "excuse me", or "may I help you" as often as we should. Expressing kindness to our family will positively change the attitude and emotions of everyone involved.

Apologising to even small children for our actions or reactions shows that we are proactive in building positive family relations.

It also reveals that we respect each individual as an equal, no matter the age. This simple yet powerful act can make everyone in the family feel equally appreciated and more inclined to work on improving the quality of the family.

Forgiving is also a powerful proactive tool. We so often waste and miss precious moments with family by holding grudges for events or actions of the past. A home without forgiveness is one filled with hurt and pain. Making the decision to forgive is vital and shows unconditional love. Without it, it is impossible to improve the quality of the family.

The journey towards improved family life may be met with challenges and detours but it is important that you remain present and proactive in your actions while keeping the end goal in mind.

Taniesha Burke is the author of the book 'Raising the Next Barack Obama: A Guide on how to Develop Core Principles For Success in Your Child'. She can be reached for comments at