In family relationships, love and connection are the goals.
Recently, I was listening to my good friend tell me about some challenges in her relationship with her mother-in-law. Their personalities are distinctly opposite and sometimes friction arises or there is unspoken tension. Over the decades, we have shared this conversation numerous times often after family gatherings. We discuss how we should remember these lessons we are learning, so that when we are parents of married children we can be perfectly behaved (wink wink). She indicated that the ideal is when a parent embraces their child-in-law as one of their own. Then we arrived at this stinging conclusion: if what she wants to do in her future is embrace sons- and daughters- in-law fully, wouldn’t it make sense for her to do that now with her existing mother-in-law? Easier said than done of course, but practice does improve the possibility of positive outcomes.
So how do we connect with our family? And how do we share love? Brené Brown defines connection as “the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
Brown also relates this belief to love: “Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them — we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.” You can read more about Brené Brown’s research here: Brené Brown – Researcher + Storyteller
Pause on that thought. We can only love others as much as we love ourselves.
If that is true, then we best be having a whole lotta self-love!
One of my favorite mentors Jody Moore asks, “What do you do that makes you feel ALIVE? Your kids need you to do that MORE.” When moms feel whole, enlightened, and energized, we strengthen those around us. Our children, of all ages, can sense our wellness and contentment. Inner confidence nurtures a calm within us that fosters the ability to choose LOVE for those we care for. When we are happy with ourselves, it is easy to cheer for others. Another good friend’s mom is known for advising, “There are three ways to teach a child: Example, example, example!” If we want our children to be happy with themselves, we must be happy with OURselves.
Another noteworthy quality to develop love and connection in your home is TIME. Spending time together is essential in nurturing the love we share. I have heard the phrase from more than one source, “To a child, love is spelled T-I-M-E.”
One reason to look forward to family vacations and romantic getaways is that those experiences allow us to spend undivided time together with our family members.
The beauty is that we don’t have to go on a vacation to spend time together. We can set aside time in the day for going on walks together, playing board games, or even talking together in the car. Loving and connecting with our kids brings a deep bond between parent and child. Even just a simple “Tell me about your day” or “What are you looking forward to?” can create a bonding moment. In those moments we can teach and love. We can listen. Over time, lifelong family bonds are created and filled with memories of both trials and triumphs. So start building those lasting relationships with your-laws, spouses and kids by loving yourself, sharing that love with them, and spending time with those that matter most!
What are you doing to build family connections?
How do you like to show love?
Article written by Dori Bowman, Utah Mothers Association Board Secretary