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How Can You Improve Your Relationship With Your Family?

For years, our family did treatment foster care for troubled teens. They were all between the ages of 12 and 18 years old. When they came to our home, we noticed instantly that they came from different backgrounds. Many of them had been abused because this was treatment care. 

This was the type of care where they needed to heal in some way or another. In fact, this was one of the highest levels of care. In our state, it was called level 3 treatment care. If they didn't make it in our home, then they would end up institutionalized or in other places. 

Well, we didn't just want them to have a behavior change. We wanted them to have something better. Something that could last their lives where they would truly be transformed. We wanted them to have a change of heart. 

We wanted them to have a vision of the future for future relationships that would be good, whole, healing, productive. Just what they needed for success. In this article, I'm going to teach you the 7 family truths that we practiced and taught our foster children so that you can help your family have a change of heart and improve your family relationships

These seven family truths are truly life-changing. I was raised in a home where our family did weekly family activities. I have to admit sometimes they didn't go very well because our bond wasn't as tight as it should have been all the time. But my parents tried to have these family activity times. And that gave us a focus on where we were going. 

Number 1: Present

You've got to be there with your children and have deliberate activities with your children. When I went to teach in China back in 2010 after the BBC's show aired, I was asked to go there to help strengthen families. The Chinese officials that asked me to come said, "We want our children to get better grades. 

How do we help them get better grades?" And instead of teaching them things like how to follow instructions and how to respect authority, I said, "I think the first thing that you need is to have family activities with your children." They looked at me strangely. "What? Family activities?" I said, "Yeah. 

Because if you don't have a bond with your children, why are they gonna care about what you want their grades to be like anyway." Boom! Light bulb. It made sense. We can't just be harping on the children for everything we want to see done but never take the time to establish the relationship that we're wanting to have with them. 

So, family relationships are a really great way to be present. Being present is more than just occupying the same space with a person. I think some families count family time as just being in the house together. 

There could be one person in their room listening to music, one person watching TV on the sofa, another person cooking dinner, or doing a project of their own. And somehow, they think that counts as family time. In our family, we do not count that as being present. 

If you're on a device or entertaining yourself in some way with a friend or something like that, then you are actually not being fully present. Being present means that you actually focus on the other person, you talk to them. You have an experience with them. You touch, you look in eyes, you have a conversation. That's what it really means to be present. Do that in your family activities and with your family time and you will notice a difference in your relationships. 

Truth Number 2: You Have To Know Your Role

The Secret To Family Business and Social Success because when I wrote my first book, I realized that people's questions that they were asking me after reading the parenting book all related to them not fully understanding their roles as parents. What is the role of the mother? What is the role of the father? What is the role of a 15-year-old son? 

Hopefully, the things that came through your mind when I said that wasn't, "Mother makes food, dad goes to work." Anyone can go to work. Anyone can make dinner or fold laundry. But not anyone can nurture the heart of another person. Not just anyone can give the security to a child that a father can give by being a strong presence in that life. 

Knowing your role is vital. Parents are abdicating their roles and what happens when they choose not to be the nurturer and the protector is they end up damaging their relationships. They don't know that. They think, "Why am I battling with this person all of the time?" And it's because the person doesn't know that they're a learner. And the parent doesn't necessarily want to be a teacher. 

So, what you have to do is you have to solidify what your role is. If you don't know what that is, get this book. There's a list of things in there that pertain to each of the roles. And they're not silly things like who's the chauffeur and stuff like that. The things that are listed on mother's day and father's day. Those aren't actually roles. Know your role, that helps everybody know who they are. 

Number 3: Know What Their Potential

Do you know who they really are? When that baby came to you the first time, you looked at that little child and you thought, "This child is amazing. He has such great potential." Or "I wonder what she'll do with her life. 

Will she have children one day just like I did?" We think things like that when they're children. And we look at their potential. But then as they get older and they start to make mistakes, be defiant, do all these different things that seem to make life annoying or inconvenient for us, we actually sometimes lose focus of their potential. 

Who are they really? Where are they going? Do they really have to be perfect right now? No. Childhood isn't about being perfect. It's about learning and you're the teacher. That's your role. They're the learner. Embrace that. Help them get to the next level. If you can see their potential, you don't have to take their mistakes personally. Seeing their potential is vital for improving your relationships. 

Number 4: Plan For Success

A wise leader doesn't ever bring the troops to the battleground or forward in the business until they've very clearly articulated the plan. Where is your family going? Do you have a vision of who it is that you're supposed to become? Making a vision for the family is powerful. 

In the teaching self-government model, we create 20-year visions where we look ahead 20 years in the future and we say, "At this specific time, 20 years in the future, who do we want to be as the Peck family? what do we want it to feel like? What type of bond and connection is going to exist there? We even get as specific as to think what conversations do we want to have?" Because of those bonds, those conversations have to be practiced now. And then when we have this picture of this vision of the future of where we're going, we can create a mission. 

A statement that tells us how we're going to get there. Visions, family mission statements, and meetings help the family have a plan of why they would even care about improving their family relationships. Where they're going? And help them have a place to check up on along the journey. 

Do you have family meetings in your family? Our family has 3 different types of meetings. We have couples meetings, family meetings, and individual one-on-one mentor meetings. With each of our children each week, these meetings help us stay the course toward becoming that family. We planned to be 20 years in the future. 

Number 5: Don't Take It Personally. 

Whatever happens, whatever mistakes they make, you have to decide ahead of time not to take it personally. Anger, frustration, stress, rage all of these things ruin family relationships. You have to decide to have calmness. It's vital, it's so important. If you don't keep yourself calm and if you are not ready to handle the problems as they come, then you run the risk of carrying only about yourself in the discussion about a family problem. And that will never strengthen your family relationship. 

We should be constantly thinking about the group not just about us and how we feel. And they shouldn't just be thinking about themselves and how they feel. When you're part of a family, everything you do relates to the entire group not just to yourself. 

So, don't take things personally when they go wrong. There's just no point. With my foster children, you'll remember there was one thing I really wanted for them. And that was for them to have a change of heart. 

Number 6: Connected With Their Heart To Heart

Even if it's in the moment where they are out of control. I look in their eyes and I envision my heart going to their heart and I think "I love you. I love you." As I'm saying the words to the correction calmly. 

I know what to say. And so, since I already have programmed myself what to say, I don't have to worry about power struggles with them. I can just think of connecting with them. My eyes are the windows to my soul. Their eyes are the windows to their soul too. And when we both look into each other, we cannot deny that each of us has beauty and potential within. 

They can feel my love for them. And it's hard to push against that they would have to literally look away to maintain the lie of the anger. The eyes help burn the hearts teach your children to look it into your eyes and you look into their eyes. It'll be powerful. You've got to connect heart to heart. Your children should feel closer to you during and after a correction than they even did before. And of course, look in their eyes and hearts when you praise them as well. 

Number 7: Be Calm

Calm communication establishes trust and understanding. Have you noticed when someone communicates in a way that's angry to you that you immediately aren't sure what their intentions are? You immediately don't trust and back off. You try to find a metaphorical place to hide. Everyone does that. That is what starts a power struggle. 

You have to know how to communicate calmly to continue that trusting bonding relationship that's going on. Now, there might be someone who's trying to push away from you. They're throwing every opportunity at you to disconnect that they can. But you can't do that. You have to have the skills that you need to be calm and okay and trusting and understanding no matter what they throw at you. It's actually possible. I want you to have that type of trusting and understanding relationship.

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