As the year ends in a few weeks, I am sure most of you are already thinking about resolutions for 2023. Usually, these are around diets, fitness, job promotions and business growth – these are individualistic in nature. As American researcher Brené Brown says, “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all men, women, and children. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong.” This is also a good time to think about your relationships and family connections. Having strong ties with near and dear ones, helps in beating stress and staying mentally strong.
Healthy relationships with parents, spouse, children, grandparents and grandchildren are vital for one’s emotional health and physical well-being. It contributes to longevity and happiness. Creating goals and resolutions in this compartment of your life will make you prioritise and give it attention which will improve the quality of your relationships. Here is how you can make a road map for what this could look like for you and your loved ones:
Reflect – Take this time to think about this past year as a whole – what has gone well or not, and what requires more attention.
List out what’s not gone well and work towards changing or eliminating it from regular interactions. For instance, a common situation – we hardly talk to each other as we are engrossed in our own devices. To solve this: Consider eliminating screens by creating a device-free hour/zone in your house. Talk to each other instead or indulge in an activity together. (Know more in my article: Golden rules to help your tween manage screen time)
Ask yourself: What do you want more of? Create a vision of how you would like to be as a family. Plan things to do together to achieve this vision. Below is a list of fun ideas:
• Family bucket list for the year: Create a list of activities, holidays, experiences, etc. that you and your family want to do. Add some new activities to try out. During the year, choose something from the list to do. This will be useful especially on days, when you find yourself asking “What should we do today?”
• Compete together: When individuals work together as a team it creates stronger bonds and a better understanding between one another. So come together in pairs or as a family. Invest your time and energy together by prepping for a competition, perhaps. It could be anything that interests you, but it must require you to prepare together for it, be it a competition in your building complex or a sports club; involve everyone.
• One-on-one time: Quality one-on-one time makes people feel special and loved. Dedicate your undivided attention to relationships that you wish to strengthen and are valuable to you. Doing this will create space for you to bond without anyone else’s influence.
A healthy and positive relationship is one that is shared between any two people who encourage and support each other emotionally and practically. Along with your personal goals for the new year, do include one with your loved ones. Be sure to involve family members in creating the goals for the year ahead. This will help you prioritise and feel inspired to partake in the activities. If you feel you are in a lot of conflict or disconnected, you can consider seeking family therapy with a professional. They are trained to help your family tide through these patches.
(Shubhika Singh is a senior consultant psychologist specialising in young adults and the co-founder of Innerkraft.com, based in Kolkata)