How is your family's mental health?
Stress is a natural and normal “by-product” of every family’s life. In fact, family stress can bring out the best of us: as we stretch to meet the challenges we face, we become better parents, our children blossom and our families grow. But too much stress can spiral our families in the other direction. Take this Thriving test to see how your family fares.
1. There is a lot of bickering in our house. Someone is always angry at someone else.
2. There’s never enough time to sit down together, either to talk or to eat. There’s always too much to do.
3. My spouse and I argue a lot about how to raise the children.
4. It’s like pulling teeth to get the kids to help around the house.
5. Our family has experienced a lot of significant change recently (divorce, death, blending family, job loss, illness, other trauma).
6. Money is very tight. My partner and I have constant conflicts about how to spend it.
7. My child has been having behavioral problems at school.
8. The children get upset when they hear us arguing.
9. I work too much, and it’s really getting to me.
10. We don’t really talk about hard issues; we just try to hold our breath, wait and let them go away.
11. We tend to spend more time with technology than each other.
1. We acknowledge feelings, encourage their expression and allow time for dealing with the issues these feelings raise.
2. We plan time for family activities. And we eat together at least once every day.
3. If a blended family, we maintain and nurture original parent-child relationships and let new relationships develop in their own time.
4. I feel confident in my role as parent.
5. Our family easily maintains a sense of humor and playfulness.
6. Family priorities take precedence over work.
7. I know what’s important to my kids.
8. When issues arise that we get stuck on, we ask for help from other family members, support groups, community-based programs, clergy and/or a therapist.
9. We have enough money for the important things.
10. Everyone in the family has responsibilities around the house and does them without being nagged.
11. We take breaks from technology in order to “tune in” to each other.
If you answered true more often in the first set than in the second set, you may want to take action to lower the stress level of your family.
Start small! Start building some fun routines like having a family game night or take up a new hobby. Or take a 7-day black out challenge to see who can use the least amount of technology, go for a walk or practice relaxation activities like coloring or just learning how to meditate.
Families that take time to have fun together, communicate about and face issues as they arise, support one another, and seek help when needed, build strong bonds and have a lot more fun doing it!
Author’s content used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications with excerpts from Gwen Ginski, LCSW