Healthy family relationships are a cornerstone in developing balanced and resilient individuals with effective coping strategies and positive social skills. However, not everyone is lucky enough to grow up with the ideal family.
When disagreements arise, families in good standing avoid blaming or attacking each other. They also make a point of resolving conflicts quickly and peacefully.
Resilience is an important part of mental health, and a supportive network of family members can help individuals overcome stressors. Healthy families provide emotional support, and this helps children develop a strong sense of self-worth.
Families can promote resilience by fostering an environment of mutual respect and empathy. They also encourage open communication and active listening, especially during conflicts.
In contrast, competitive dynamics involve family members competing with each other for things like status or recognition. Research shows that this type of stress can lead to health-compromising behaviors and increase the overall allostatic load (the wear and tear on the body resulting from daily life). A well-functioning family provides an environment for resilience to thrive.
Gratitude—feeling appreciative and thankful—has long been considered one of the most important elements in well-being.1
Practicing gratitude shifts one’s focus from negative emotions and discomfort to the things that are working well. For example, if you have a flat tire on the way to work, instead of focusing on how annoying it is, you may notice that your job makes it possible to pay for replacement tires.
Studies have shown that grateful people have a higher level of life satisfaction.2
Empathy is the ability to emotionally understand someone else’s feelings and see things from their perspective. It is the ability to “walk a mile in their shoes.”
Healthy family members communicate openly and honestly, and they support each other. They work together to solve problems and challenges and they respect each other’s opinions. They teach and model positive coping strategies, such as active listening and conflict resolution skills.
Families with communal dynamics prioritize spending quality time together through activities such as game nights or outdoor adventures. They foster empathy by respecting each other’s personal boundaries and encouraging understanding during disagreements. They also teach their children to respect others.
Having respectful relationships within a family can build trust and foster stability. When conflicts arise, families communicate openly and listen actively to each other’s perspectives while avoiding personal attacks.
Many philosophical discussions of respect focus on the idea that there are certain kinds of objects to which we are owed moral recognition. These typically include human beings: a judge, a superlative singer, or a trusted colleague.
Different objects call for a wide variety of responses. This has led some philosophers to think that the search for valuable qualities possessed by humans that could ground a universally owed moral recognition respect gets things backwards (Sensen 2017; Bird forthcoming). They also question whether or not such an approach really adds anything to morality.
Forgiveness involves rethinking one’s attitudes and beliefs. It involves abandoning moral indignation, desire for retaliation and attachment to being right. It can require a lot of time and energy to replace negative attitudes with new ones.
Qualitative research suggests that forgiveness has a range of positive effects on people’s mental, emotional and social well-being. For example, a participant from a Theosophist community reported that forgiving helped him let go of bitterness, mood disorder and ruminating thoughts. This allowed him to develop healthier relationships and a more open life. This also impacted his spiritual development. However, these benefits appear to be primarily related to forgiveness of a specific offender.
Healthy families communicate well and support one another. They celebrate good times together and address challenges with compassion, empathy and respect. They also rely on shared values to guide decisions. For example, a family with compatible morals and principles will likely agree on how to handle monetary problems.
The quality of sibling relationships may be influenced by gender and the overall family context. For instance, studies show that women with higher SES have better quality relationships with their siblings than those with lower SES.
Shared value is a growing business strategy that benefits both companies and communities by addressing societal issues that intersect with the company’s operations. This can take many forms, from developing financial services for the underserved to improving access to healthcare.