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Family Wellness: Strengthen Your Family Ties

Military family walking together

Your first support community is your family unit. A united family helps service members thrive, and in turn, families cope better when their service member is active in helping the family stay strong in the face of unique challenges. The wellness of your family depends on the wellness of each family member, so it’s important to find ways to keep your family connected, healthy and united.

What does “family wellness” mean?

  1. Family wellness means setting a good example through healthy behavior and creating a safe, stable environment for children during deployments:

    Setting a good example helps children adopt good behaviors and habits themselves. Children are more likely to listen and respond positively when you are a good listener and act in ways that promote good choices. Teaching your kids to make good choices can create a more peaceful household for you.

    Creating a safe, stable environment for children is critical for maintaining family wellness, especially during a deployment. Children who feel safe, loved and supported are less likely to develop behavioral or emotional issues, and sustain better health and social interactions.

  2. Family wellness means devoting time to your family and being an active participant in your household.

    Devoting time to your family demonstrates that you are emotionally available to your loved ones when they need you, building feelings of trust, affection and loyalty. Families who spend time together are closer, more loving, and navigate challenges more smoothly than those with superficial connections.

    Being an active participant in your household may be difficult if you’re coping with multiple or long-term separations. If you cannot contribute to household chores, financial obligations or child-rearing due to separations, you can set up routines and strategies the family can maintain while they are away.

  3. Family Wellness means being flexible and compromising when possible and putting family first when confronted with a choice between acting in self-interest or in interest of the family:

    Being flexible and compromising when conflict arises in your family helps sustain family unity and avoid serious conflicts. Couples and families that master the art of compromise express mutual respect for one another and tend to experience less stress and anxiety related to arguments.

    Putting family first can be achieved in a number of ways. For healthy families, that includes practicing forgiveness, opening up to your loved ones, recognizing when members of your family need help, and making good lifestyle choices that support your entire family – instead of just you.

Signs of family distress

  • Inflexibility and unwillingness to compromise
  • Increased impatience and irritability between family members
  • Domestic violence
  • Sexual, physical abuse
  • Neglect
  • Spouse/partner infidelity
  • Poor financial decision-making
  • Lack of routines
  • Poor self-care/care of family members
  • Acts of self-interest without concern for family well-being

Tips for improving family wellness

  1. Get closer to your spouse. A healthy marriage can create a strong foundation for your household, affecting all the areas that impact your family. If you and your partner are experiencing marital problems, programs are available in the National Guard to strengthen your relationship.
  2. Set aside special family time during the week. Plan a game night, go to the movies together and tell bedtime stories – these all qualify as ways to share your time with your family. If you’re on a deployment, communicate as often as you can to let your loved ones know that they’re on your mind and in your heart.
  3. Families who eat together stay together. Creating routines that involve all the members of your family – like getting together for dinner – is a way to create stability and instantly fit family togetherness into your day.
  4. Practice good communication. Good listening skills and open communication are vital for family wellness. Confiding in your loved ones will also help you feel supported. Sharing about your National Guard service can provide support and alleviate concerns among your loved ones.

Get to know your state/territory family resources. The National Guard provides a number of local resources for you and your family, including your Family Readiness Group, Director of Psychological Health, and more. To learn more about national programs the National Guard Bureau offers, visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS.

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