Skip to main content

Health library

Building a healthy family dynamic

It's normal to have your own thoughts of what a family should be.

And there may be times when you compare your family to other families. That's easy to do.

But remember, no family is perfect.

In fact, a perfect family is more myth than reality. Every family is different. And the structures and definitions of family vary. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports there's no way to say what makes a perfect family and what doesn't.

In the end, being perfect isn't what's important. What matters is building a supportive family environment, according to the AAP.

A healthy family dynamic

The same basic principles can help all families achieve a healthy dynamic. The AAP offers this advice:

Be realistic. Every stage of your child's development will bring something new. Your child's self-awareness, knowledge and skills will always be changing. So try to have expectations that are matched to your child's age. Be flexible and adapt your parenting style to your child's personality and stage of development.

Having realistic expectations of yourself and your child's other parent is also key. Parents have limits and can only do so much. Remember, there's no such thing as a perfect parent.

Know that mistakes are OK. We all make mistakes. Children bounce back and forgive. And most learn and grow from their mistakes. Aim to be just as resilient and forgiving with family issues.

Treat kids as individuals. If you have more than one child, you know that each one is unique. You should love all of your kids the same. But you can work to create a separate relationship with each child. Reinforce each one's strengths and talents. And steer clear of comparisons with siblings or friends.

Be a good role model. Children learn by watching you. So show moral and social values to your child through your actions and words. Remember that your child will likely follow your lead in how to deal with anger, solve problems and work through difficult feelings. Do your best to set a good example.

Take care of yourself. Children do best when their parents' physical and emotional needs are met, according to the AAP. So try to eat a proper diet and get regular exercise. Be sure to get enough sleep as well. And set aside time for yourself to do things that you enjoy.

Help along the way

Parenting offers rewards. And it comes with challenges too. Family life will likely bring conflict. But working through problems can help draw a family closer together.

If your family seems overwhelmed with problems or you have trouble coping, seek help. Your doctor or a mental health professional may be able to assist you.

Reviewed 1/31/2024

Related stories