Families are tricky things. Multiple personalities, a difference of opinions, world views, and experiences. That is part of what makes a family so exciting and fun.
However, it is also that same nature that can make taking care of a family a complicated thing. Each person has different needs and will be at different stages of their life.
Each year will bring new people to your family, new friends and sometimes more problems.
It is essential that you aren’t trying to take on the burden of the entire family to yourself. It’s not your job to take care of everyone from top to bottom. You also need to have time to take care of yourself too.
Children are some of the most exciting and energy-filled parts of the family. They arrive with a tremendous amount of excitement, a lot of waiting, and then we get to watch them grow.
The arrival of the first teeth causing pain and upset for many, first days at school, big emotions, and significant opinions too.
Children are great and are in a prime position to maximize the help and support from the rest of the family.
In such a busy world, some of the habits that we can pass down to our children are healthy habits to help them grow well—looking at things like mindfulness, stress reduction, and finding (keeping) the love for simple things like walking.
Most people need a big chunk of money to study or to manage to get their first home. The earlier you save, the more help you can give them. One of the fastest ways to do this, or simply to open a bank account and put money in there, but don’t give them access until they are 18.
Turning up, showing up, clapping at plays, reading, and being around. Being around is one of the most critical things you can do for children as they grow up. Have conversations and ensure they feel like a valued member of the family.
Adulthood is long and can be challenging to handle. While teenagers are expected to act out and be confused about things. We generally lay a lot of expectations at the feet of adults – which can be very difficult.
A lot of life changes come between the ages of 18 to 60. Losing people you love, the arrival of babies, buying houses, different jobs, loss of relationships… It is a busy time.
It is important to check in with friends and family in this category. It is proven that male-identifying people are more at risk of suicide without warning. Take the time to ask how people are, and really listen. Talking can be one of the key things to help people through some of the most challenging times in their lives.
While teenagers do tend to dabble in drugs and alcohol, most of the time, adult money can help facilitate adult problems. DUI’s, making irritating decisions, burning through savings, stealing, and more.
All of this culminates in the need for an expert witness for drug and alcohol testing, rehab, and a lot of support.
Time becomes harder than in the younger children category. You are unlikely to be able to show up for a play where they are a star.
Taking time with adults involves making an effort, because jobs, family and other commitments make it difficult.
The teenage years are known for being turbulent. It is a short space in time where such a lot happens.
Learning who they are, where they fit in the world, and exploring the world through fresh (and often very confident) eyes.
Many of us are lucky that we didn’t grow up with social media. As much as it can be wonderful, it can be very damaging too.
It is essential that you take the time to find some body-positive accounts, some smart political content, some unedited content.
Cyberbullying is also more prevalent now than it has ever been. While teenagers won’t tell you everything, you can help them develop a sense of what is fake on the internet and how to differentiate between what is real and not.
‘You never listen’ ‘you don’t understand me.’ Everyday things that come from teenagers, and unfortunately, most likely correct. Humans need to feel secure and cared about. Part of that is using a skill called active listening.
Active listening is beyond nodding while your teenager tells you about their day. It is about picking up the details, responding when you really need to, and hearing what they are really saying.
Ask better questions than ‘how was your day.’ Instead, ask, ‘how was lunch today.’ It might take a while to break through any barriers, but over time, you’ll start to hear answers.
The older members of your family are likely between 60-80+ and more if you are lucky. Their needs change too. The TV gets a little louder; the glasses get a little thicker.
While they might remain super active, many people start to enjoy relaxing later in their lives. Popping over to have a cup of tea and some cake, a weekly phone call, helping them keep all of their finances under control the older they get.
We know that health declines with age, so you can make sure you are aware of all of the health issues and how you can ensure they are doing the best thing for their health.
Simple systems like pill containers filled up ahead of each week can be beneficial to keep everything on track.
Taking care of all of the members of your family is something that can be a lot of fun; spending time with the youngest to the eldest getting to know everyone, and being a source of support and joy is something that all family members strive to do.
Listening, learning, and time are the biggest gifts you can give and receive to your family.