Cultivating Connection in Your Family

When I meet with families, I often inquire about their family routine. Learning more about family dynamics and traditions is a helpful starting point. It allows me to better understand their unique family culture.

A theme I have noticed in the families I meet with is a desire for more family bonding time.

Between sports practice, dance class, music lessons, and work meetings, families often experience difficulty finding moments to pause and focus on family connection.

Alfred Adler, an Austrian physician, psychotherapist, and the founder of Adlerian psychology, emphasizes the importance of feelings of belonging. As humans, we desire to feel known and experience a sense of love and belonging. Our family of origin offers the first opportunity for belonging.

Tthink about ways in which you can cultivate connection, love, and belonging with your own family. Consider these family bonding tips:

  • Unplug from technology – Limiting screen time and creating a “no screens policy” during family get togethers encourages face-to-face connection and decreases distraction.
  • Family dinners – Intentionally making time for family dinners, even if only for a few nights each week, allows for connection and conversation. Whether your family dinner takes place at home, a restaurant, or an outdoor picnic, time around the table allows for togetherness.
  • Family walks – Spending time outdoors is a refreshing opportunity to engage in physical activity and meaningful conversation with family. Try visiting a local park, walking the family dog, or taking a stroll around the neighborhood together as a family.
  • Read before bed – After a busy day, it takes time for our body and mind to unwind and prepare for sleep. Connecting with your family by reading a book together before bed encourages new learning, imagination through storytelling, and can be the catalyst for conversation about a book and its characters.
  • Create a family mantra – Collaborating with your family members to create a mantra that represents your family values encourages teamwork and an understanding of what is important to your family. An inspirational quote, poem, book passage, or song lyrics are just a few of the sources you can use to find a family mantra…or create your own motto that is unique to your family!
  • Speak words of affirmation and encouragement – Acknowledging your family members’ unique traits and abilities can help us feel recognized and understood. Start by complimenting each family member at family dinner or a family outing, and let affirmation become a daily practice in your family.

Each family is unique and what may work well for one family may not work well for a different family.

Take time to explore which family bonding activity works best for your family. Notice how making space for family time can impact your feelings of connectedness.  

Written By: Mary Anne Sylvester, LPC