Close family relationships influence us across our life span and play a crucial role in our growth and development by teaching us about the fundamental ways our connections to others can enrich our lives and wellbeing, and guide us to make good choices.
The relationship between a parent and child is usually a child’s first experience of relationships, so for this reason, parents are in the unique position to demonstrate what a healthy relationship is.
Healthy family relationships have their ups and downs with moments that are supportive and moments that can feel disappointing and hurtful.
Close family relationships are a very good place to learn how to accept people’s differences, manage your own emotions and practice negotiation and conflict resolution skills.
There are often times when parents can get stuck at particular family transitions or life changes.
A new baby can put a strain on a relationship. Managing behaviour with younger children can also be stressful and challenging for couples, especially if there are different ideas about how best to respond. Older children moving into adolescence can also provide challenges for parents, particularly if young people are asserting their need for more freedom and independence.
It’s also not unusual for parents themselves to have had difficulties in their own relationships with their parents, which can then affect their relationships with their children.
In all of these normal transitions, and in relationships generally, the key is to stay calm, repair moments that don’t go so well, and practice your conflict resolution skills. Sometimes it is not the end result of these trickier times, but rather how you got there – that strengthens relationships.
If you feel things are becoming difficult, it’s important to seek help early.
Download a PDF copy of this tip sheet.