The Secret to Making Family Relationships Strong and Normal

As a counselor for over 15 years, I often hear the expressed hope for a “normal family”. Normal is conforming with a type, standard, or regular pattern. The concept of a conforming teenaged youth may appear an oxymoron yet the requirement for equilibrium and normalcy is not. With such clients, I assess their perception of a “normal family”. Answers change, but I find that strong and productive families share similar dynamics including the enforcement of rules, clear communication, and acceptance of change.

Vigorous yet satisfied and strong families have rules that are specific, respected by all family members, and consistently applied. Rules in the home help the members of the family develop clear expectations, support a stable environment, and reduce the frequency of control and power struggles. What makes a strong family is when every family member knows where authority lies and respect the opinions of all members while also allowing the ability to negotiate and discuss any issues or family problems.

Clear communication is another contributor to strong families. Members take responsibility for their statements and respectfully communicate with others. Although expressing thoughts and feelings involves facing certain risks, one may encounter opposition, difference of opinion, and hurt – these expressions are validated and welcomed in healthy families.

A third characteristic of strong families is the anticipation and appreciation of change. While it is human nature to resist change, strong families have a propensity to accept change and members understand the ever-present concept of change. These families have a clear comprehension of development stages and are therefore in a position to successfully assimilate and accommodate when change is necessary. Family members understand life stages and accept each member’s individual maturity and growth.

To conclude, while no perfect recipe produces perfect families, a “normal family” is accomplished when these important ingredients are considered and implemented. Incorporating the above characteristics is the best way to start fortifying your family relationships.

Tia Parsley, MEd, LPC, LCDC, of, has experience aiding teenagers and their families with issues like addiction, anger control, parenting, anxiety management and much more. Here she addresses the idea of a “normal family.” While there are varying concepts in regards to what makes a family normal, what makes a strong family has surprisingly consistent characteristics from family to family.

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