Families aren't just a group of individuals who happens to be related. They are a group where all members can feel accepted and safe.

In families, adults and children can learn and grow together. They provide children with a sense of belonging.

They provide children with emotional support, nurturing, protection, and security.

As families spend more time together, they form stronger bonds and traditions.

Families also give their children their first lessons in values and acceptance, social behavior; lessons they will carry with them throughout their life.

Developing family relationships isn't an easy task, especially when families are spread out. However, just living together under one roof doesn't guarantee smooth relationships. When individuals need to work together as a group, they are going to be differences of opinion, problems, and conflict. Each family member can help make a family stronger.

Strong families have a variety of characteristics. Family members spend time together, share responsibilities, and work together to resolve differences. They listen to each other with an open mind and allow each person to express opinions and share feelings. They share goals and values and also show appreciation for each other.

Forming Traditions

Spending time together whether doing special activities such as a family vacation or following everyday routines such as eating dinner together, is the foundation to building a strong family. These activities or ways that families do things are what become family traditions. Families that form many traditions form strong ties with each other.

Traditions provide a sense of continuity, understanding, and appreciation that brings a family together. They are also opportunities for families to have fun times and establish good memories that will carry them through tough times. Traditions provide family with some time together to communicate, heal from a loss, adapt to new events, affirm family values, celebrate, and connect to the past. Traditions are the thread of life that create a sense of togetherness and appreciation in families. It is the "little things" done together that only create strong family ties, but also memories to

last a lifetime.

Shared Values

Values are the beliefs held by an individual, family, community, or society. They include feelings about the importance of acceptable behaviour in terms of honesty, respect, responsibility, friendliness, kindness and tolerance. The values that parents pass on to their children are largely shaped by the values that their parents passed on to them as children, their own life experiences, and other religious beliefs. Society also helps shape a family's values

In a strong family everyone is commited to one another. The family is built on a foundation of shared values. For example, when parents and other caregivers teach children the values of honest, they foster that trait in their children. When a problem or conflict arises, their children have learned to be honest and that the family will not judge or criticize them. Their children then communicate more openly, and , as a family, they work together to solve the problem. With a strong foundation of shared values, children feel more at ease. They experience more success when they venture away from the family to meet new people, take on challenges, and become valuable members of society.

Handling Family Conflict

There is no way around it: Families argue. Sometimes they bicker over seemingly minor issues such as what show to watch or whose turn it is to take out the trash. Other times the conflicts are more serious. Many families may have conflict about money or curfews. No matter what the issue big or small, families need to know how to resolve their differences. Parents and children need to try to understand each other's viewpoints and feelings. When families can resolve their conflict successfully, the whole family is stronger.

Here are some tips for handling family conflicts effectively:

Keep Cool - When emotions run high, people say and do things they don't run really mean. It is always good idea calm down before trying to resolve a conflict. Physical conflict, such as hitting, should never be a part of teen or adult relationships.

Be an active listener - Even in the middle of a conflict it is important to listen carefully to each other's concerns without immediately judging them. It helps to repeat back what was heard in an effort to avoid confusion about feelings and attitudes. Other people are so concerned about what they will say next that they fail to really listen. Active listening encourages problem solving and better communication.

Use positive body language - People who make eye contact and sit up straight send the message that they are truly listening and do care about the other person. When appropriate, a pat on the back or a hug can do wonders to help break the tension and make the other person feel loved and more at ease.