Where You Live Matters
People who are highly satisfied with their neighborhood are 25 percent more likely to be highly satisfied with their family life.
-Toth, Brown, and Xu 2002
Open Communication Is A Must
The less open the communication between adults and children, the more pessimistic the children are likely to be and the less likely the children are to feel secure in their family relationship. This is nearly doubly as significant in stepparent-children relationships.
- Al-Abbad 2001
Tell The Family Story
Parents who frequently share stories of family history with their children produce higher levels of interest and concern for family members, and increase the likelihood of their children’s happiness as an adult by 5 percent.
- Leader 2001
Parents who are more honest and open with their children, more frequently disclosing stories about themselves and their feelings, increase their children’s feeling of connection to their parents by 31 percent, and increase the likelihood of their children enjoying a positive self-image by 17 percent.
- Baird 2002
(More on the value of telling family stories here.)
To Communicate Values To Kids, Focus On Closeness, Not Lectures
Feelings of closeness and high levels of time spent together are three times as likely to produce similar values and political views in offspring as are a parental emphasis on those views.
- Buysse 2000
Like It Or Not, You Are A Role Model To Your Children
Studies of young adults find that more than seven out of ten regularly measure themselves against their parents in terms of either their career or relationship status.
- Glasman 2002
To Be Happy With Your Family, Be Open To Change
Studies focusing on the ability of people to maintain happiness as they age reveal that an openness to change in both family life and work life is associated with a 23 percent greater likelihood of maintaining high levels of life satisfaction.
- Crosnoe and Elder 2002
Studies of people who are characterized as rigid — extremely reluctant to accept change — show they are 39 percent less likely to communicate well with their families and 27 percent less likely to feel close to their family.
- Sayre 2001
We Love Those Who Show Love
People are 47 percent more likely to feel close to a family member who frequently expresses affection than to a family member who rarely expresses affection.
- Walther-Lee 1999
They Need You To Be Positive When Times Are Tough
Even in the toughest times, when a person can think positively about the future they are capable of reducing the stress felt by their family members by as much as 60 percent.
- Atienza, Stephens, and Townsend 2002
History Beats Apology
For children, more than 80 percent of the basis for forgiving negative parental behavior is rooted in the pre-existing strength of the relationship rather than in the immediate aftermath of the behavior, such as the apology.
- Paleari, Regalia, and Fincham 2003
Try To Be Fair, Not Right
When there is conflict, the perception that you are generally fair is eight times more important than the perception that you are generally correct in maintaining the respect of family members.
- Montford 2002
The Secret To Work/Life Balance Is A Feeling Of Control
Parents who balance work and family life find that they are 41 percent more likely to feel satisfied with their situation if they can see the pleasant aspects of the stress they experience — namely that their efforts are part of a full life of their own choosing.
- Jackson and Scharman 2002
Discussing Tough Subjects Pays Dividends Later
Research on the frequency with which mothers discuss sensitive topics with their teenage daughters reveals that willingness to discuss sensitive topics increases the future closeness of the relationship by 36 percent.
- Silverberg, Koerner, Wallace, Jacobs, Lehman, and Raymond 2002
Happiness Is Determined By What You Think About Most
People who are happy with their lives and their family lives spend twice as much time thinking about the good parts of their lives as people who are not satisfied with their life or family life.
- Diener, Lucas, Oishi, and Suh 2002
(The things proven to make you happier are here.)
Family Rituals Matter
Consistent family rituals encourage the social development of children and increase feelings of family cohesiveness by more than 17 percent.
- Eaker and Walters 2002
(More on how rituals make life better here.)
Kids That Pick Their Activities Enjoy School
Children who regularly participate in structured extracurricular activities (including clubs and sports teams) of their own choosing are 24 percent more likely to report that they like going to school.
- Gilman 2001
Separate Your Work And Family Life
People who carry worries about their family to their work, or worries about their work to their family, are 32 percent less likely to be satisfied with their lives and 44 percent more likely to feel out of control than people who segment their thinking by keeping their work and family concerns separate.
- Sumer and Knight 2001
Coping With In-Laws Is Worth It
Satisfaction with marriage is 13 percent more likely when friendly relationships are maintained with both sets of in-laws.
- Timmer and Veroff 2000
People who feel their family is experiencing a lot of conflict are 22 percent more likely to feel hopeful about the situation if there is a pet in their life.
- Bussolari 2002
(What your pet says about your personality is here.)
Kids Need More Than Just Mom And Dad
Studies of boys and girls find that the presence of a trusted nonparental adult increases feelings of support and life satisfaction by more than 30 percent.
- Colarossi 2001
Anyone Can Have A Happy Family
Researchers have found that a loving family life can be created among any group of people. Long-term studies comparing adopted children to children raised by their biological parents find little difference in the children’s feelings on family life, and no difference in their ability to enjoy good relationships with peers.
- Neiheiser 2001
Here are three other research-backed posts that can help build a great family:
For more helpful tips, join 45K+ other readers and get my free weekly update via email here.
This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.