1. Marriage: This may seem obvious, but many families fail because the marriage is failing. A devoted, intimate, passionate, happy marriage in which the partners are truly good friends sets the tone for a happy family life. Like the scent of your favorite candle, mom and dad’s happiness permeates the home. Knowing and feeling that mom and dad love each other allows the children to feel safe and secure. Whatever may come, good or bad, this family feels greater security because mom and dad love one another.
2. Enjoyment: I’ve always been amazed how little many families enjoy one another. Why be involved in family if all that it brings is misery, contempt, and anxiety? Like a cascading waterfall, enjoyment begins at the top and flows down. Adults who enjoy life tend to produce children who enjoy life. Incidentally, there is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing to enjoy life in other ways besides having children. This is certainly better than having children and then not wanting them. It’s perplexing why some parents have children and then seem to resent them. If you don’t want them, don’t have them. There’s certainly nothing wrong with being child-free. Children are financially, emotionally, and physically demanding. Spend your time and energy on things you will enjoy. If having children is how you want to spend your money, time, energies, then do so with great enjoyment.
3. Listening: Successful families have good listeners. Regardless of age or experience, everyone is willing to listen to one another’s opinions and feelings with respect, always trying to solve disputes by clarifying issues and negotiating compromises. Solving is the goal, not winning. If mistakes are made, successful families deal openly and honestly with the mistake, and then (very important) let go and move on.
4. Modeling: Successful families understand the wisdom of modeling. Those with more experience should feel greater responsibility to set good examples of how to live a productive life. Control, manipulation, power are seen for what they are – a means to erode and destroy relationships. Respect for the worth of every family member, regardless of age, is seen as essential to maintaining and building worthwhile relationships.
5. Thoughtfulness: Successful families seek out opportunities to express thoughtfulness to one another. Cards, flowers, a kind word, or a thoughtful act are a regular part of family life; not just reserved for special occasions. Kindness to one another becomes the norm, not the exception. It’s little wonder why such families find sanctuary in the home from an often hostile world.