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15 secrets of happy families

WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Family life probably rarely lives up to some of the ideals shown on TV or in films, but there are some ways to help bring extra happiness to the home. Here are some tips:

1: Enjoy each other

The essence of a happy family is that they truly uplift each other and that all depends on how they treat each other, experts say. Parents come home and the kids are happy to see them and when kids come home, the parents are happy to see them.

2: Swap stories

When your children come home, ask them what happened at school and have a story ready for them. If you come home grumpy and not really interested and then five minutes later the TV is on, why would they be happy to see you?

Your kids have to come first. Try to drop everything you are doing and always come home with something to share with them. This way you give your kids something to look forward to. The great bane of family life is boredom and that is what leads to dysfunction, affairs, and kids wanting to be with their friends instead of their family.

3: Put the marriage first

Set a real example of love, so your relationship and marriage must come first.

There are many families where parents put the children above their marriage, then they become substitute providers of love, which is an unfair burden on the children.

4: Sit down to meals together

Families that eat together, stay together. It's that simple. Family dinners are essential, sitting down at a table and not in front of the TV, experts say. It's a time to connect.

5: Play together

Have one or two activities that the whole family can do together on each night. These might include bedtime stories for young children or reading a chapter from a novel to an older child.

6: Put family before friends

In happy families, family comes before friends. Give rules, but understand that kids need fun, too. When kids get bored and listless, they start looking for excitement out of the home and that is when friends become more important. Friendships are important, but your family is more important.

7: Limit children's after-school activities

Today, growing numbers of children are over-booked into many after-school activities each week. Mum and dad become a taxi service and the children are never at home at the same time. This is not a recipe for a happy family. If your kids grow up not knowing how to do ballet, they will be OK. No after-school activity is one extreme and too many activities is the other extreme, but moderation is the key. Create your own after-school activities as a family, for example, take your kids cycling or swimming after school as a family.

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