Photo by Gustavo Fring

Countless definitions shape a healthy family. What are the characteristics that contribute to it? What does it mean to have one?

A healthy family is the basic unit of an equally healthy society. Contributing to a healthy family won’t be as easy as it sounds since we come from different cultures and backgrounds. But by respecting individual needs, we can be part of a healthy family system, whether by blood or not.

To be clear, a healthy family can be anything and anyone with a deep sense of bond. What we’re going to tackle are merely general characteristics. And if you don’t find any of them in your family, don’t worry. That doesn’t mean your family is not dysfunctional.

We’re all aware that not all families are healthy like the ideal ones we want for ourselves. Circumstances and other uncontrollable things have broken some. By identifying the positive traits of a family, we can quickly determine what is unhealthy and deal with them accordingly.

Family trauma is not easy to deal with, and the book ‘How to Procreate a Healthy Family’ by Max Teran gives detailed guides on how to procreate the desired healthy family. It may sound easy to spot family flaws, but we tend to be unaware of things, even the ones closest to us. What’s healthy or not has become so commonplace that only a few actively recognize them.

Common characteristics of a loving and nurturing family

It’s never too late to make a healthy family work again. There are instances where you don’t have to have complete parents or siblings. What matters in this context is the bond you share and your mutual familial love, which should be treasured more.

Respectful of each other’s emotional and physical boundaries

Every member of the family deserves privacy. As we all develop a sense of individuality, we crave solitude for many reasons. And even without those reasons, family members need to respect that and not cross the line. In healthy families, parents usually express empathy and self-control toward their children, and them following suit.

Children subsequently learn those behaviors from their parents. By learning respect as parents, children will pick up on it until it becomes a habit they will positively pass on to others.

Understanding that every family member is an individual with a voice

Part of respecting each other’s boundaries is acknowledging that every member has their outlook and opinions. A healthy family allows everyone to express their thoughts and feelings on some issues. Whether they’re directly affected or not so involved, they value being heard more than being dismissed.

If your family dynamic works in a way that there’s little to no room for discussion, that’s just wrong. Active listening takes part in a healthy family discourse. And even if adults get the final say, everyone should have a consensus.

Implementing healthy rules and managing expectations

It’s perfectly normal for families to have rules and regulations to set things right. Rules also help children not be led astray because of ignorance of right and wrong. However, too many rules can suffocate children to follow and keep up with. They will eventually find the urge to break free from them or secretly deviate from who they seem to be.

Age-appropriate rules and expectations are necessary to be managed positively. Otherwise, children will feel confused and won’t fulfill what’s expected of them. It will severely affect their self-esteem and perception of themselves as they grow.

Understanding the tendency to make mistakes and extending forgiveness

We are only human, and we inevitably make mistakes. The same mindset should be healthily exercised toward children and parents. When conflict brewing and tensions thicken the air, there are safe and appropriate ways to resolve them. Adults in a healthy family should always be a model examples of positive conflict resolution.

Instead of shaming children for their misbehavior, a healthy family with loving parents will do otherwise. Healthy families would analyze the situation reasonably and understand all sides. Children need to feel understood; one way to do it is by teaching them the consequences.

It’s easy to forgive them, especially with their age, but they must be aware of what they did wrong. That way, it will be easy for the children to grasp forgiveness doesn’t always come with instant correction and healing.