Welcome back! If you did not read Part One, check it out first. It is important that you start with step one to be able to effectively work through these last steps to improve your family’s dynamics. Do not forget to grab the worksheet at the bottom of either post to track all the information.
Now that you have identified all the roles, interactions, and outside factors impacting your family, you can make some decisions. If you still feel like you are trying to work through understanding all of those things, take some more time. Do not start taking any actions that could make a big change in your family before you are fully ready. Change is hard enough with knowledge of the how and why. It is pretty much impossible without it.
If you are ready, we will take a look at the final steps of understanding and improving your family dynamics.
Step 5: Look at what is working and why.
Let’s start with the good. It is always better to praise the positives before getting into the not-so-positives. Take a look at family connections. Who is really close and supportive of one another? Why do they have that bond? Can you learn something that can be emulated in other family relationships?
I love that in my house we say what we feel needs to be said knowing that we will work through whatever it is. We place a huge value on being able to openly express ourselves in both the good and the bad. That is a dynamic that comes from both adults sharing the role of decision maker. We have learned through trial and error that in order for that dynamic to work for us, we have to be able to communicate our opinions freely.
Think of examples in your family. Maybe you excel at planning and taking charge and it makes your whole house run smoother. That is a positive dynamic that you definitely do not want to change. Go through and look at every family member and think of a dynamic they play a big role in that adds value to your family. You do not want to take something like that away.
Step 6: Evaluate what may benefit from an adjustment.
Now that you have taken a look at the best parts of your family’s dynamics. Consider what you think could use some improvement. You have thought about who has great relationships, but who does not? Think about if your kids are connecting. If you and your kids are connecting. If you and your spouse are connecting the way you would like to be.
Imagine this, you get home late from work and are too rushed to get dinner on the table to spend time talking to your family about their day, that is causing a distance to start forming. Maybe you have a situation like this that you would like to figure out how to change so you continue to feel a strong bond with your loved ones. If you want to keep the role of family cheerleader, you are may have to adjust your role as employee to accommodate that.
Consider what improved dynamics would benefit both you and the other people in your family. Make a list of what things need to change in order for those interactions to work more effectively. Can those changes be made? If not, is there another way to improve? Just know that there will not ever be all positive dynamics no matter how hard you try. Strive for improvement, not perfection.
Step 7: Be aware of potential re-actions.
A word of caution: when you start to change a dynamic it may cause an effect on others. These reactions are going to be more prominent the more dynamics you try to change at once. The repeated actions (re-actions) you take to affect change may cause a dynamic you thought worked before to stop working.
For instance, if you want your son and his father to be closer and this dynamic is repeatedly encouraged, you may need to take over some of the responsibility of the disciplinarian role so that fresh connection does not experience a setback. Your family will have to determine in these instances if the initial goal is worth the impact it will have in other areas.
Step 8: Make a plan and take ACTION.
Now comes the part where you go through all the knowledge and understanding you have gained about how your family functions and put it to use. It is important to get the whole family involved in this step. It is vital that the majority of the family agrees on the changes decided and is willing to take action. You cannot change the major family dynamics all by yourself.
A plan needs to be established. All parties should be playing a part. Maybe some people will need to take on new roles. If your family is not the type to get on board with sitting down and making a plan or going through the background information, you can still make a plan for the things you can affect and try to incorporate your family through a less formal means.
Choose just a few (maybe 2-3) dynamics you would like to see improved. For each desired change, list three to five action steps to get the result you would like to see and who will need to take those steps. Pick a time frame of when you would like to re-evaluate and determine what has and has not worked. At this time also consider impact on the other dynamics. These things take time and effort so make sure you don’t re-evaluate too soon.
As promised, here is the worksheet you can use to assist you as you go through the steps: FamilyDynamicsWorksheet (It should download as a PDF. If you have trouble let me know.)
Working through these eight steps will help you gain a better understanding of your intricate family dynamics. Using that information you can hopefully improve the things that are not creating positive impacts and connections. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.
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