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What Thriving Families Do

No family is perfect, but some families do more than just survive- they thrive!  Research has been done to identify those things that thriving (not perfect) families do. Here are some of them.

Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

It is so easy today to go along with the fast-paced, ultra-stressed, pulled-in-all-directions way of life.  It is easy to lose focus and let priorities shift. Thriving families put family first.

How to start? Get together and plan an activity. It can be for the whole family or special one-on-one time between parents and children. Make that time something you look forward to or is unique to each child.

Listen First

Each person has a unique perspective. There may be times when you rather than your child are right. For example, you may be right in saying, “You cannot stand in the middle of the street.” They may be wrong in saying, “I can do whatever I want whenever I want to.” However, thriving families make a habit of listening and understanding first. They are willing to have empathy or imagine, “What would it be like to be my partner or child?  How do they see things?” They seek to understand the other fully before trying to get their point across.

How to start? When you ask your family member how their day went, put your own thoughts and feelings on hold while you listen to them. Try to imagine being them as they speak and understand from their perspective.

Go For the Win-Win

No one likes to lose. Often, compromises mean that someone has to lose, at least a little. Work for what would be the best for all involved, even if that means thinking outside the box.

How to start? Think of an issue that your family has been struggling with for a while. Discuss together what would be a win-win for everyone. Be creative in problem-solving as a team.

Enjoy Diversity

One of the things that makes life both difficult and exhilarating is the difference between people, including members of a family.  Thriving families honor the differences and look for ways to celebrate unique parts of each other.

How to start? Take 10 minutes to think about the differences that each person brings to the family table. Write out those differences and how they enhance the family. Decide on a way the family can show appreciation for 1 unique thing about each family member this week.

Becoming a thriving family takes time.  Even if your family system does not look how you would like now, you can put some or even one of these elements into practice.  Make a move towards thriving!

(Adapted from Steven Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families)

What Safe People Do

We want to be in healthy relationships that help us be ourselves and grow. Sometimes, while we may want to be in relationships that are respectful, supportive, fair and trustworthy, we do not always know interpersonal characteristics to look for.  Here are a few things that people who are more likely to have healthy relationships or “Safe People” do.

What Safe People Do

Safe people are concerned about “we,” not just “I.”

  • It’s not all about them, what they want, how they want it, and where they want to go in life (or just today). They show genuine concern for others and their relationships.

Safe people have empathy.

  • Empathy is the ability and willingness to imagine, “What is life like for this other person.” Safe people consider others’ perspectives with compassion, even if they don’t agree.

Safe people encourage freedom.

  • They will respect you when you say “no.”
  • They will stay connected and will not try to guilt you when you set a boundary.
  • They support that you have interests, hobbies, family and friends separate from them.  They have their own life, too!
  • Safe people may feel jealous at times, but they are willing to talk about those feelings with respect.

Safe people are a positive influence on you, not a negative one.

  • They encourage you to be more trustworthy, honest, loving, fair, and respectful.

Safe people help you feel more connected than isolated.

  • Safe relationships allow for connection and openness.  You may ask yourself, “Do I feel connected with them or more lonely?  Are they willing to be open and vulnerable with me or are they closed-off?”

Safe people use open communication rather than manipulation, flattery, or gossip to communicate with others.

  • When there is a want, need, or disagreement, safe people address the matter with honesty, respect, and patience.  They are willing to lovingly speak to you and listen when you speak to them.

(Adapted from Safe People, Cloud & Townsend, 1995).


Are you in relationships with safe people?  Are you a safe person yourself?  No one is perfectly “safe” all of the time.  There are some situations that are more difficult to be a “safe person” in than others.  If you are in a relationship that is not as safe as it could be or if you there are some “safe” characteristics that you do not see in yourself, there is hope!  Becoming a more safe person is a skill that the most people can learn!  Counselors at IDEALS can help you develop these skills. We use Relationship Enhancement (RE), a method that has 40 years of research that demonstrate its effectiveness, even when there are serious problems.  Contact us to schedule an appointment.