Family is not just an important part of your life but it is, in fact, everything. A compass that guides us, a protective life jacket in a storm, and a safe haven, family is an eternal, strong and secure bond. The love, warmth and guidance it provides is priceless and stays with you forever. There are high notes as well as low ones in one’s familial relationships, too, but in the end, you end up with a beautiful song! To celebrate this truly special social institution, the United Nations has designated May 15 as the International Day of Families.
Families are like branches on a tree. We grow in different directions, but our roots remain as one.
International Day of Families
In the 1980s that the United Nations shifted its focus to families and the challenges they face. In 1993, the General Assembly passed a resolution agreeing to celebrate 15-May as the day dedicated to the family system which is integral to a happy and healthy society. First celebrated in 1994, the UN uses this day to highlight key issues affecting families and develop solutions to address these issues. Each year workshops, seminars and activities are organized around a theme making individuals realize the value and importance of families and communities.
Several factors, including social, economic and demographic ones, have affected family structures and their dynamics. It is not an understatement to say that COVID-19 has had a drastic effect on families with illnesses, job losses, tragedies and adjustments galore. Days such as these helps one reflect on the positives and look back with gratitude for having a home and family to come back to and cherish happy memories and good times.
Family Dynamics: Complex and Fragile
Given our hectic lifestyles and busy schedules, family relationships can get complicated. Often, multiple generations live together, worsening differences of opinion and conflicts of ideas. Several factors contribute to family dynamicsm including the nature of people living together, communication between them, hierarchies and specific issues such as illnesses, whether mental or physical, and trauma of any kind. While differences are common, it is key to work around them to allow for open communication and resolution of conflicts. This is imperative as healthy family dynamics go a long way in nurturing healthy relationships and affects one’s behavior and well-being in a positive way.
Further, with more families shrinking in size with the increase in nuclear and single parent families, the importance of bonding, sharing and being there for one another can hardly be overemphasized. Cohesion, warmth, friendship and a sense of belonging is key for individuals to be socially and emotionally secure. This leads to the development of positive personalities, which augurs well not only for individual families but for society, too.
Small steps, big impact
While challenges and problems within families are common, it is important to note that small steps in the right direction can foster cheerful vibes. Spending time with one another within the family should be considered as a true blessing as it is an opportunity to communicate, speak your heart out and strengthen bonds. Make a conscious effort to take time off from your daily chores and spend some time with your parents and children. Initiate a conversation on simple things like how did their day go while sharing a picture of your own day. Open the channels of communication to connect on a personal level.
Being empathetic and sharing household tasks as well as responsibilities is a great way to bring family members together. Helping your child with his/her homework or project, assisting your spouse in prepping a meal, accompanying your mother on her visit to the dentist, or driving your dad to the club, are just some ways to bond.
Set time once or twice a month to engage in fun activities, such as picnics, indoor games etc., wherein all family members can get together. Plan activities where children can interact with their grandparents, share their stories and engage positively. Spending time together enhances camaraderie, fosters a sense of respect, love and compassion for each other. Finally, if you feel overwhelmed by work pressure or other factors, or feel anxiety when handling some situations, do not hesitate to take professional help.
Still, remember that it is important to hold family members close, for it is with them that you laugh, celebrate, dream and love together.