How to Be a Good Father

Firstly, for those of you, on the brink of becoming a father, congratulations are in order and those of you who wish to be better fathers, I wish you all the very best. The lesson of being a good father, is synonymous with being a responsible human being.

Preparing for fatherhood is a balancing act, that is unparalleled with anything you will ever do in life. It is being tender, yet tough at times, being protective without smothering your child, being a good mentor, without trying to take control, letting them be independent, yet being there for them. As you can see, it is not going to be easy. Having the responsibility of an entire person upon you, is never going to be easy for you or your wife.

To be a good father is a journey in self-discovery and the greatest lesson of your life. It is an opportunity to pass on all that is good in you and see a tender new life blossoming under your care. You are going to learn more from your child, than you learned from anybody else ever.

You have been on the other side before, that is, you have been a son. Now, it is time for a role reversal and you are a father now. It is time to unlearn a lot and learn a lot more along the way. Do not blindly give your children, the same treatment, just because you got the same from your mother and father. Recognize the good points of what they did and also identify the bad parts. Pass on whatever good there was and I am sure there was a lot. Forget and forgive the bad parts, if there were any. Make sure that you do not repeat them with your children.

As you face your own difficulties of bringing up your own child, you will be able to appreciate your father and mother, even more, for how they put up with you.

Being the Best Father

Unconditional Love…
Unconditional love is the prime ingredient for being a good father. You do not have to work to bring this out, it’s always there in you, just let it flow out. Do not withhold love under a false exterior of appearing to be tough or being a man. Let your child feel loved.

It is very essential that your child learns how to take in love and give out love. If he is deprived of that, it will create problems for him later, when he is connecting with the world outside. When a child grows up, seeing and feeling the love between you and your wife, he will learn to love too.

Enjoy the process of Being a Father
Enjoy the process of nurturing a new personality and seeing a new person take shape. You have to be a child yourself again, to connect with your child. See the world anew, through his or her eyes and see your own perceptions change. Right from changing nappies to dropping children to school, you will relive your entire childhood.

Be your child’s friend and his protector. There is something very satisfying in being a father. That feeling, you can only understand, when you see your child for the first time. It is scary and wonderful at the same time. So, enjoy the process of bringing up your child.

Be Responsible and Share Responsibility
Understand the immense responsibility you have on your shoulder as a father. Do not run away from it. Embrace it and grow with it. It is time to shed your careless ways and realize that one more person depends on you now. Whatever you and your wife do, your child is top priority. Think twice before taking rash decisions. In short, remember that you have to put your children before you.

A child’s mind is like clay. It is very impressionable and every action of yours around him or her, is going to influence the formation of his or her psyche. A new personality is taking shape in front of you, so be careful about how you shape it. Do things in such a way that there is no doubt in the mind of the child, about what is the right thing to do.

Share responsibilities with your wife. Plan things together. Be conscious about the health concerns of your child.

Be There For Your Child
Work is no excuse for not being there, when your child needs you. What use is the money you earn, when the people who you earn it for, are deprived of your presence, when they need it. It’s all about priorities in life. Once you marry and have your child, you must think of them first.

Yes, it is important to earn material comforts for your child. However, just buying big and costly toys is not your only responsibility as a father. A toy can be hugged but it cannot hug back. For a child, people are more important than having things. Remember that, or else do not complain when the child grows up to be insensitive.

Ensure Good Education and Moral Conduct
Good values and good education are the greatest gifts you can give a child. Ensure that he gets the best schooling possible. Teach him through example about how lying is wrong, how hurting people is wrong, and how to respect people. The child, especially a son needs to learn to respect women. The lessons for that will be taken from how you treat your wife, your daughters, and your mother.

Be stern and criticize your child, when he does something wrong, but do so in private. Do not insult him to the point where he or she cannot overcome the guilt. Teach your child, that it’s okay to make mistakes, but do not repeat them.

Encourage Curiosity and Independent Thinking
Obedience in a child is a virtue, but not meekness and conformism. Encourage curiosity and independent thinking. Explain things to children, as logically as possible. Do not reinforce false beliefs. Encourage reading and playing sports.

Let There Be Conversation
Talk to your child and create an atmosphere, where he or she can feel free to discuss problems. Let him or her question your methods and thinking. Children are the most honest critics and you will get a lot of insight from them, I am sure. Treat their opinions with respect and do not ridicule them. Teach him to reason things out. This may iron out some of the stubbornness in them.

Spend Quality Time
Go on a hike or camping with your child and show him the wonders of nature. No matter, how busy a schedule, let there be a large portion of your time, that is exclusively devoted to your child. Having fun is an essential part of growth in a child’s life. Have fun together as a family and you will stay a family.

Accept Your Mistakes
When you expect frankness from a child and expect him to own up his own mistakes, you must do the same. A child can very easily spot double standards. They are like mirrors. So, when you are mistaken regarding something and the child points it out to you, accept it. This is very important. When a child sees honesty, he or she reciprocates it.

You Can Be Tough and Firm Without Being Violent
There are bound to be situations, where you may have to be strict and stern, when the child is unreasonable. Reprimand him with straightforward words, when you find something unacceptable and make it crystal clear that it should not be repeated and tell him the consequences of his actions. Beating a child never brings out good results in short or long term. Never raise your hand on a child.

Do Not Compare Between Your Children
Do not compare the abilities of your children and pit them against each other. Teach them the importance of sharing and respecting each other, for what they are. Be fair with children and encourage bonding between them.

Mentoring Without Taking Control
You cannot decide the destiny of your child. Every child is different and comes with inborn gifts. Do not try to mold him in your image and do not expect him to trace your footsteps. Nurture your child and provide all the opportunities you can. Put the pros and cons in front of a child and leave the decision up to him or her. Do not force your child into something, when you realize that it’s not conducive to his or her inborn talents. Do not kill your child’s dreams, but embrace and nurture them. Let the child know that you are always there behind him, for support. Do not use the carrot and stick practice with children. So mentor them, but do not manipulate and control them.

Protect But Do Not Smother With Care
Help your children and take care of them, but do not care so much, that they are unable to stand without you. Encourage self-reliance and resourcefulness in a child. Take pride in doing things on your own and your child will learn that too.

Small Trees Cannot Grow in a Big Tree’s Shade
Let the child bloom into his own personality. Give him opportunities to test his strength in the real world. Let him learn to take his decisions on his own. Trust him with jobs and give him responsibility and I am sure, he won’t be wanting, in shouldering it. This will build up self-esteem in your child.

Don’t Burden Your Child with your Own Unreasonable Expectations
Do not burden children with unreasonable expectations. This puts undue pressure on them. Encourage them to find themselves and be themselves, which is more important.

Never Give Up on Them
Things may go wrong and the child may land himself into trouble. Never give up on him or her. Be there to encourage and be his or her source of confidence and strength. Believe and trust in him to pull out of whatever trouble he or she has gotten into. Do not ignore your children ever.

Let Your Relationship Evolve With Time
As the child grows up to adulthood, be his friend, philosopher, and guide. Let your relationship evolve with time and be transformed into friendship. Let the child benefit from your experience and wisdom and let yourself benefit from the freshness of his spirit.

There is no perfect way to become a good father and life is perhaps the best teacher you can have. No matter what happens, do not let your ego come in the way of reaching out to your children.

You will realize how good a father you were one day, when your son or daughter will beat you at your own game and surprise you with his or her profundity. What you sow, you reap. Nothing can be more satisfying, than seeing your son or daughter fulfill your most ambitious dreams, but it’s more satisfying to bring up good human beings. One day, you will realize that it was not you who carried the child, it was the child who carried you.

How Not to Entertain Your In-Laws

When Can We Come Over?

Recently, I had the opportunity to entertain my in-laws at my house. My partner and I usually visit them at their house, but my mother-in-law had been practically begging for an invitation for weeks. Every time we saw her, she would ask, “When are you going to invite us to your place?” or “We’d really love to see your place, when can we come over?” She even went so far as to write this nagging question in a thank-you note after Christmas! Finally, I relented and we invited them to have dinner at our place.

Entertaining the In-Laws

You could say that the first thing I did wrong was to invite them over at all, but at the time I felt that it really couldn’t be avoided. If I didn’t entertain the in-laws, they would just keep on asking until it gradually became awkward, and then I would have a situation on my hands that I really didn’t want. And now, I’m glad it’s all over with, but on the whole the night will go down in history as one of the more irritating evenings I’ve hosted. Of course, any good host or hostess knows that if an evening isn’t fun, it’s her or his fault, because she or he was responsible for showing the guests a good time. I feel that way in this case, too, but believe me, they aren’t the easiest people in the world to please.

My Tacky Mother-in-Law

My mother-in-law in particular is known for being extremely judgmental. Although she is a woman of pedestrian tastes, she thinks that she is the height of fashion, so anyone who doesn’t share her fondness for the banal and tacky, she takes for an underdeveloped cave-dweller. Even worse, she’s from the backwaters of a Midwest state, so she knows (or thinks she knows) that anyone who doesn’t agree with her is simply uninformed, and she adopts a very patronizing tone when she gives people instructions on how to dress, live, and behave. In other words, inviting her over was a lot of pressure, and I wanted to serve something really delicious.

The Dinner

My father-in-law is on a gluten-free diet, and I’m a vegetarian, so my cooking options were limited. Ultimately I settled on a recipe that I made once, several years ago, and that was a big hit. It was a recipe for Scalloped Potatoes and Fennel, and I thought it would go over really well. I followed the recipe meticulously, but for some reason it just didn’t turn out very well. It was sort of bland. To make matters worse, the Olive Tapenade that I made for the occasion was overly strong, on account of the fact that I had never made it before. Suffice it to say that I would have had much better results if, instead of trying to wow them, I had gone with something I knew would turn out well.

After Dinner

The after-dinner portion of the evening didn’t go much better. The in-laws didn’t seem to like the music I had chosen, my mother- and father-in-law took turns monopolizing the conversation, and by the end of the night we were all struggling to stay awake in each other’s company. I should have prepared some conversation topics or activities in advance (not that my in-laws like to have fun), or at least instructed a friend to fake an emergency at an opportune moment.

The biggest lesson I learned from all this is never, under any circumstances, to invite my in-laws over for dinner. If I had to do it again, though, I would try to be a little better prepared. I only hope someone can learn something from my mistakes.

Read more at Buzzle:

How to Get Along with Your Mother-in-Law

Obviously, she is feeling neglected because you took over the position of the most important person in her child’s life. Yes, I am talking about your mother-in-law. Would you react any differently? If you haven’t shared the best mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship, you are one among the countless women who are sailing in the same boat. There are very few who are actually lucky enough to have kind and caring mothers-in-law who know their boundaries. You can either be at war with your better half’s mother or be at peace with her. However, I always say that it is never too late to mend a relationship, especially the one that you are legally obliged to have. At least you can ensure that for the rest of your relationship, you can get along nicely with your mom-in-law. It is really not that tough and most of it is just in your head. A little tweaking in your attitude towards her could go a long way. You never know, she may just become your best confidante and help you out with family life and your relationship with your spouse.

Getting Along With Your Mother-in-Law
Don’t try to create a wedge between your partner and your mother-in-law. In fact, you should allow them to spend more time together without interfering between them.
Suggest your partner to visit your mother-in-law at least twice every year if she stays in another state or once every other month if you stay in the same town. The more you avoid seeing your mother-in-law, the more both of you will be estranged. Increasing face time will familiarize both of you with each other and make a better bond.
You would make your mother feel special any day and you know she would absolutely love it if your husband did it for her too. So, why not show a gesture of affection/generosity towards your mother-in-law once in a while?
Quit trying to pick out flaws in her. Nobody is perfect and she did not bring you up. So, your husband or wife is likely to overlook her flaws because they are so used to it. It’s new for you and it will take time to settle down in your relationship with your relatives in-law. Give each other time.
If you often find yourself being annoyed with your mother-in-law’s tactics, focus on the positive things that she has done like not forgetting your birthday, bringing you a dish that she cooked when you were unwell, babysitting your children, giving you her support during tough times or helping you around the house.
Don’t complain about her child. No mother wants to hear it from anyone that her child is not perfect, especially the spouse. Instead, you should appreciate your partner by saying, “I am so glad that you brought him up to be the man he is because he is so responsible/takes care of everything/makes me feel secure”, or mention any particular characteristic you love. She will feel proud and will respect you for acknowledging her toil.
If she comments on any of your habits or way of life, take it as constructive criticism and ask her to help you out with better tips or solutions. She is not necessarily nagging you. She has been in your shoes and you will be surprised how much you can learn from her years of experience and how she dealt with life.
But, refrain from criticizing any of your in-laws even if one of them indulges in the same. You will only be perceived to be trying to alienate them from each other. Also, avoid getting into arguments, taunting, making sly comments or bickering with them.
A smart way to get along is to start mirroring her body language and habits. It indirectly suggests that both of you are in sync, reducing the tension and will make you feel more comfortable in each other’s presence. Use the phrases she commonly does or mirror anything unique about her body language. You should also try to imbibe a few of her positive habits like the way she finishes household chores, etc.
Make her feel that she is a part of you, your spouse and child’s life by keeping her informed about all the important events taking place in your lives; the time your baby got his first tooth, your child’s school recitals, his/her birthday, your spouse’s promotion or any other significant news.
Ask your mother-in-law for her opinions, suggestions and advice to solve some issues in your life that you wouldn’t mind her getting involved into. It will show that you are not threatened by her presence in your life and you welcome it wholeheartedly.
Don’t forget to buy your mother-in-law gifts, not just on her birthday or anniversary, but for all festivities, especially mother’s day and even days when there is no reason to gift her. It could be a fresh batch of her favorite cookies you baked, a cashmere shawl, a pamper-yourself bath set or delicate cutlery.
Praising your mother-in-law to others will someday end up being the music to her ears. Secondhand praise is even better than praising someone directly. Moral of the story, always speak good about your mother-in-law.
If you do not have much in common to talk about, a never-a-miss subject is her children! Ask her about your husband/wife’s childhood, every mother likes to talk about her children and you will end up learning something new about your partner.
Every mother is concerned about her child’s happiness, health and prosperity. You need to assure your mother-in-law that you are taking good care of these. Getting along with your mother-in-law is not a ‘herculean task’. Give her a reason to feel glad about you being a part of her family and give her time to trust you. Don’t be prejudiced towards your mother-in-law. Else, no matter how hard you try, your bitterness towards her will never let you share a nice relationship. Every relationship is built on respect, faith and regard for emotions. If you are keen on building a healthy relationship with her, you need to first make changes in your outlook towards her. Remember, nobody likes someone who doesn’t like them. If right now, you do not get along, showing a gesture of love and gratitude will help break the ice between both of you. No matter what you do, don’t ever put your partner in a tough spot to choose between the either of you. He/she may take a stand but you should avoid your relationship with your mother-in-law from affecting that with your partner.

Communication Problems in Families

For anyone to say that they’ve never seen family problems would seem a tad unbelievable. There isn’t a family that hasn’t seen issues of some sort at some point or the other. The biggest cause for misunderstandings is communication issues among families. The unfortunate part is that one little misunderstanding can cause bitterness for a long time to come. But at the end of the day, the scenario with relationships isn’t quite as volatile as it may turn with the family. In case of a family, it is of extreme importance that the issues get handled with care, especially because if not handled in the right manner they could turn into dysfunctional families for a long time to come after that. It also isn’t uncommon to see that a lot of these problems often stem from strained relations between the adults of the house, in the first place. So, how should these communication problems within families be fixed? Take a look.

Communication Problems in the Family

Problems do not erupt out of nothing. They most often are a result of egos and sometimes of denial. Some of the most common factors that lead to communication issues among families are:

Lack of Patience: This is a largely contributing factor leading towards family communication problems. Lack of patience can be one of the biggest downfalls when it comes to the levels of closeness of most families too. A snappy parent, or even a snappy child can be quite a hassle to handle under certain circumstances. The easiest way out in situations like that then is ignoring the person in question, because it is a much simpler escape route.

Lack of Time for Each Other: Not so much of a shocker, is it? The lack of time for family members is invariably a reason that leads to communication problems. Makes sense if you really think about it. With the fast paced lives that we seem to be leading these days, it hardly comes as a surprise that the lack of time for each other is one of the key aspects leading to family problems. Parents hardly have the time for children; spouses too, don’t have much time for each other. It’s almost heart breaking to see family’s lose their closeness due to reasons that would seem almost trivial.

Lack of Discipline: This is the worst problem in terms of children. A badly behaved child could ruin the peace of a family, like a tornado waiting to happen. What’s worse is, while parents may have some semblance of control when the child is little, this could go way out of hand when he/she gets older, thus leading to a constantly disharmonious atmosphere within the family.

Solving the Problems

If there are problems, there are solutions, that is a given. If worked on the right way, even these problems can be put to rest. Take a look at what the best solutions for family problems are.

Be Patient: If the lack of patience is one of the causes of problems, very evidently the solution is developing the virtue of patience. Hearing out what the children have to say on a certain matter, or even consulting the significant other in issues where their consent is required is one way to start.

Spend Time Together: Not being in on each other’s lives can vastly cause problems too. It is therefore essential to have quality family time with one another. Bear in mind though, while being in on the other person’s life is a good thing, it shouldn’t border on interference in any way. An overdose of time spent with each other too can lead to problems, so this must be worked on with a certain balance.

Stay Focused and Don’t Assume: This one goes more for the seniors of a family. It would be natural to see juvenile behavior being displayed by the younger members of a household, but it is up to the elders, be it parents or siblings, to control the atmosphere and keep it calm. A hot-headed adult can make situations worse. Also, being presumptuous about the behavior and attitude of the younger ones can lead to problems, so rather than working on assumptions, talk things out. A comfortable environment will help allow truth from them too. This will act well in favor of the family.

Most of what was given above were some of the most common problems that most families are faced with. Working on them could help to a great extent. At the end of the day it is important to maintain the best relations possible with your family, because if not for family, there is nobody else to act as a real support system to you.

Family Relationships

Every now and then you need quotes like these to remind you of the value your family holds in your life. Though family relationships are based on the strongest bond you could probably forge, they are equally sensitive. The bond of parents with children, of children with their siblings, among extended family, are all important relationships that need to be nurtured with time and effort. It is this lack of time and effort that sometimes results in minor or major problems within the family. The meaning of family gets altered, the strong bond weakens, and if not taken care of, withers away into nothingness. Here, we try and understand this sensitive bond, the problems it endures, and ways of strengthening family relationships.

Taking Each Other for Granted

The great gift of family life is to be intimately acquainted with people you might never even introduce yourself to, had life not done it for you. – Kendall Hailey

The biggest problem that affects family relationships is the fact that they are taken for granted. ‘She is my mother, so she will cook for me’, ‘He is my father, so he will pay for me’, ‘He is my brother, so he will stick up for me’, etc., are all thought processes that signify you are taking your bond for granted, and that your meaning of family is that only they should be there for you, irrespective of whether or not you are there for them.

It also signifies a lack of respect and value for all that you are being given without being asked for anything in return. But remember, every relationship is one of give and take. Though parents’ love is known to be unconditional and that is what you have been taught all your life, there is something that they expect out of you. It may not be materialistic, but just simple appreciation of the fact that they do so much for you. Similar is the case with your siblings.

Taking any relationship for granted, be it one with your family, one with your partner, or with a friend, is one of the biggest mistakes all of us make at some point in life. Every time such an instance occurs, your relationship will be affected, and weaken over time. So show your appreciation every once in a while, say it or express it with a gesture, but do it. It keeps the love alive and the relationship strong.

Not Being There for Each Other

No success in public life can compensate for failure in the home. – Benjamin Disraeli

The second biggest problem that family relationships have to endure is the lack of time for each other. You are probably so caught up with your work, your social life, or yourself, that you have no time to bond with and understand the importance of family. This is in fact, a very serious problem, because there have been disastrous cases of children having the worst childhood, simply because their parents did not spend enough time with them. They grow up with bitter feelings in their hearts, and blame every negative instance or attribute that they possess to the fact that there was no one to teach them the difference between the right and the wrong. Some children have the maturity to understand the issue and deal with it, others don’t. You definitely don’t want to be one of those parents.

Also remember that if you don’t teach your little ones the value of spending time together as a family, as they grow up, they won’t have enough time for you. That means when you are ready to listen to them, take care of them, and simply be there for them, they will probably have found another shoulder to cry on and another person to share their happiness with. This is probably when you will feel most regretful. Even spouses face the problem of lack of time for each other, and this results in serious relationship issues, such as emotional cheating, infidelity, and divorce. The fact that you promised to share your lives together, no matter what, is completely forgotten, and a bitter battle of words and emotions takes its place.

Not Communicating with Each Other

When a family is free of abuse and oppression, it can be the place where we share our deepest secrets and stand the most exposed, a place where we learn to feel distinct without being “better,” and sacrifice for others without losing ourselves. – Letty Cottin Pogrebin

Lack of communication is another problem amongst families. This may be due to the lack of time, or due to a particular fear of communicating with the family. For instance, kids are scared of their parents because of a fear that has been inculcated into them, which is why if they happen to do something wrong, they don’t tell their parents, as they expect to be severely berated, labeled, and blamed for their doing. Spouses don’t communicate with each other for the same reason. Parents don’t tell their children what they feel for the fear of causing bitterness in their hearts.

Yes, family relationships are sensitive, but they are definitely stronger than your fears. You have only your family to back you up in tough times, and sometimes, even the tiniest amount of support from your little one can strengthen you enough to tackle the world. Similarly, forging a bond with your kids so that they can easily come up and talk to you about any of their problems is important. This does not mean that you do not tell them when they are doing something wrong. There is a fine line between respect and fear that kids have for their parents. Command this respect, and leave no room for fear by opening up to them, and having them open up to you.

Not Saying ‘I Love You’ Enough

The real question isn’t whether or not you love your kids, but how well you are able to demonstrate your love and caring so that your children really feel loved. – Stephanie Marston

The phrase ‘I Love You’ has a lot of value, in spite of the fact that it is loosely used nowadays for any Tom, Dick, and Harry. The difference is when you say it, you have to mean it. Internally in a family, saying ‘I love you’ to each other, and meaning it every time you say it, is very important. You probably don’t realize it, but it strengthens not only your bonds, but also your own self. We’re all humans, and all we want is a little love, and this expression of love from our family makes a whole world of a difference to the people we are. If not verbally, say it by means of a gesture, like cooking up a great family dinner, taking your kids to the new amusement park in town, giving in to their demands every once in a while, spending time with your spouse with a quiet dinner, or anything you think is an expression of your love for your family.

Good family life is never an accident but always an achievement by those who share it. – James H.S. Bossard

With all said and done, family relationships can strengthen you, but sometimes weaken you too. Sometimes, your loyalty to your family is so great, that you are unable to make certain decisions that you know would benefit yourself. Sacrifices are not always termed as a good idea, because it is a fact that you cannot make someone else happy unless you are happy yourself. In some cases, it is necessary to separate from the family that is weakening you, to find yourself, and then return to nurture and recreate family relationships.

However, just remember the very important bottom line here. Not every human being is blessed with a family, and those of you who are, carve out some important family time, put in your efforts to nurture your relationships with every family member, have some good old family fun, and you will find yourself blessed, strong, and capable of tackling any problem that life throws at you.

Advantages of the Traditional Nuclear Family

In such a family structure, the father’s role includes providing for the family, protecting it, and being the family’s disciplinary role model. A mother’s role consists of household work, raising the kids, and taking care of the family.

What are the Advantages

In recent decades, such a family structure has undergone major changes with increasing rates of divorce leading to single-parent families and remarriages which result in extended families. These trends and the resulting problems that they cause, especially for the children, has brought the advantages of traditional nuclear families back into focus.

A Stable Environment
Children raised in a family with married, heterosexual parents during their growing years have a higher likelihood of having stability in their current and future relationships and emotional bonding. Children who grow up in a single-parent household have higher chances of feeling a sense of loss regarding the absent parent, and miss out on the advantages of emotional support and dual insights that both parents can provide.

Behavioral Stability
With both parents, children get a better sense of what is acceptable and unacceptable, as far as behavior is concerned, especially when both the parents look after their nurturing. When both parents agree on the kind of behavior that they want from their children, it adds authority, and thus can be instilled in a better way.

A Sense of Consistency
Children get a sense consistency, especially when it also includes closeness with other members of the family such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. This provides a strong foundation to their roots, and can be a guiding principle all their lives.

Learning Skills
In a nuclear family, children usually get far more extensive training in life skills. For instance, mothers usually teach their children relationship skills, like emotional response skills and how to have smooth relations with others. Whereas fathers, in general, teach their children handiwork and sports skills, like fixing things around the house or hitting a baseball, as well as how to deal with the world outside.

Sharing Responsibility
With two parents sharing the responsibility of raising their children, it enables one parent to take time to pursue other interests or get a rest while the other parent plays or works with them. Children also tend to take on some of the sharing of the responsibilities, such as older siblings taking care of their younger siblings. Certain roles are usually performed by expectation and example, rather than formal instruction.

Physical and Emotional Support
Nuclear families usually have more physical and emotional resources with which they can reinforce the whole. Through observing their parents and by following the examples set by them, children learn how to help in the building of the family.

Family Feud: Living With Members of the Opposite Party

Though political ideals tend to run in families, there are cases such as my own in which one’s views just don’t match with those of their family. Though this won’t tear a family apart in most cases, it can cause tension at family gatherings or at the dinner table. Here are a few tips I’ve discovered from my personal experiences as a flaming liberal atheist in a hardcore conservative Christian family.

1. Make your opinions clear but don’t try to change theirs: You don’t expect them to change your feelings about the matter, do you? This makes it highly unlikely that you’ll change their minds either. State your feelings on a topic and move on, rather than pushing your beliefs on them.

2. Avoid religion: If your religious views are different, the best thing you can do is to avoid the topic altogether. In my case, when we gather around to pray before dinner, I bow my head but I don’t actually pray, because that’s not my belief. Respect the beliefs of your family, but do NOT attempt conversion. That can only end in an emotional mess.

3. Respect their opinions and ideals: Everyone feels a little differently when it comes to politics, and no two politicos are alike. If you disagree, don’t attack. Nod your head, respect the thought they’ve put into their logic, no matter how twisted, and move along.

4. Leave the room: If a debate among family members becomes heated, you’d best leave the room and mingle elsewhere. Besides, there’s got to be somebody in your family who you can see eye to eye with, right?

5. Shove that turkey in your mouth and keep quiet: This works well around holidays such as Thanksgiving, where food is in abundance. Stuff your face, so you’ve got an excuse not to talk.

6. Avoid family: This isn’t recommended. Despite my family’s drastically different views of the world, I still love them. See your family for who they are and not what they believe. This may seem difficult, but it’s vastly better than ignoring your family altogether.

Using these simple and easy tips, it is my most sincere hope that your family gatherings can be a more pleasant experience. Though you may, on occasion, feel alienated if you are alone among a crowd of conservatives or liberals, depending on your own stance, remember that no matter what, your family will love you.

At least, I would hope that is the case.