In 2008, the New York Giants were not supposed to win the Super Bowl. The undefeated New England Patriots were considered the favorite. But the wild-card Giants took home the trophy.
What happened to tip the scales in their favor? Some analysts feel the Giants were able to synergize their determination and talents to beat the odds.
In today’s society, families appear to face odds similar to the Giants. Drugs, pornography and numerous other hurdles make raising children particularly difficult. How can parents lead their families to the same kind of success? Here are five practical ideas to help parents overcome the odds and develop a synergized family.
1. Increase family interaction
Communication is essential for family success because it enables family members to share thoughts and opinions, make decisions, solve problems and develop interpersonal relationships. And the best way to heighten communication is to increase family interaction. Cutting back on individual activities in favor of family time, eating meals together as a family, having a family night and scheduling regular family vacations are some of the best ways to increase interaction.
2. Establish a common goal
Unity in any group is usually based on the desire for a shared purpose. Whether it is called a goal, objective, purpose or vision, parents can increase family synergy and unity by frequently discussing what it is they want their family to achieve in life. Making a family goal board, for example, is one way the Michelle Neujahr family has worked to instill greater unity and purpose. (Find instructions for making your own family goal board here.)
3. Recognize interdependence
Family members are affected and influenced by the actions of each other. A successful, cohesive family teaches every member to be responsible for doing his or her part. And that failure for doing one’s part can adversely impact the rest of the family.
One of the best ways to help family members recognize interdependence is to teach cooperation and teamwork by playing together. Jeff Spiers, a father of four from Englewood, Colo., expresses it this way: “My boys learn it on their baseball teams. When a throw is bad from short to first, the first baseman offers encouragement. In this way, the boys help coach each other and learn their reliance on each other.”
4. Work together
Physical and mental efforts required to work together to accomplish something can be one of the more rewarding ways to synergize a family. As a child growing up, I remember many family work projects that brought our family closer together. One of my favorites was an annual service project setting up luminarias on our street on Christmas Eve. The sense of accomplishment we felt as a family when all the candles were lit was incredibly rewarding.
5. Demonstrate love and compassion
Unity and synergy in the family rely heavily on individual members feeling as though they are understood and loved despite their personal flaws. Use kind words, caring tones and a gentle touch. Look for opportunities to praise one another, even when behavior is not exemplary. And, if children are whiny and complaining, take time to actively listen to them and restate back their reasons for feeling frustrated. Acting with love, patience and compassion toward each other builds the long-lasting positive atmosphere required for successful family life.
Rebecca Irvine, author of "Family Home Evening Adventures" (Horizon/CFI 2009) and "Adventures with the Word of God" (Horizon/CFI 2008) is an adjunct professor of communication at Mesa Community College.