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Creating a Healthy Family Dynamic for the Holidays (and Beyond!)

Family dynamics refers to how we interact as a family with each other while having individual goals and preferences. It is an evaluation of roles—hierarchies, and how we communicate. Today, I want to focus on creating a healthy family dynamic for the holidays and beyond. Whether you are a traditional, single, extended, or blended family unit, it doesn't matter. Each of these units, while challenging, can also be incredibly rewarding with a positive dynamic at play.

Families with a healthy dynamic understand that there are priorities in life but also value family and the time spent together. They create balance in discipline, knowing it is necessary, and focus on ensuring that each member is treated fairly. They have mutual respect for personalities and build rapport to understand how each member wants to be treated and what each member needs. The expectations are mutually beneficial and are within the abilities of the members.

When the family dynamic begins to change, it usually results from members changing over the lifetime of the family unit. This can result from many circumstances, but individual impact on the family dynamic is inevitable. However, it is through embracing those changes that a healthy family dynamic can continue. Here are a few examples of when the family dynamic changes or becomes unhealthy.

  • Communication Failures. This happens when no one is hearing or actively listening to one another and simply speaking over each other so no one point is heard, which may result in some members showing their feelings through physical or verbal abuse.

  • Member Comparison. This happens when a member or members don't realize that each person has different aspirations or goals, like a parent who compares one child to another, not knowing that we have to appreciate each child individually.

  • Member Shunning or Controlling. This happens when a member or members are mentally or physically abusing someone to their will or disregarding their opinion in the family unit. A good example is a husband or wife that controls how their partners dress, eat, and act.

  • Lack of Affection. This happens when we don't offer the basic forms of affection, physical and mental touches of love, that make a person feel valued. Good examples are giving a child a hug when needed or showing up for a family member's event when asked.

Understanding the family dynamic is important and offers a connection or insight into how you became the person you are. The family dynamic can affect child development, be carried into adulthood, and have an immense impact on your health and well-being. It can help you clarify your life choices and explain why you're drawn to certain habits and behaviors.

This holiday season, take time to explore your family dynamic, speak with individual family members, and better align yourself with who they are and what they need. Be cognizant of the things that trigger you when you're around your family during the holidays, and create action steps around how you want to interact and handle those moments. How we can create action steps around the negative experiences and moments we've had and find closure and peace is how we grow and progress on the journey.

Have a wonderful holiday, and make amazing memories!


The Positive Advancement Family

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