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Strengthening the Ties That Bind

Healthy Living

Licensed Master Social Worker with the Shawnee Mission Behavioral Health Unit

At the end of the day, how we relate to others matters a lot. Having strong relationships improves self-confidence and self-awareness. They allow us to shift perspective outside ourselves, which can lead to better overall health.

Having a close relationship with one person is great. But having several close relationships is even better. You should have more than one type of relationship in your life—when you have more relationships, you have more opportunities. You’ll also gain better perspective by connecting with people from different walks of life.

Six key relationships

You can greatly improve your social health and wellness by focusing on these six key relationships:

  • Husband and Wife – Honesty and open communication are both keys to a healthy relationship. If you have children, be sure to take time away together once in a while to refocus on your bond and friendship. Listening without judging, validation, and small acts of kindness can help maintain a healthy relationship.
  • Father and Daughter – Determine a common interest so you can begin bonding over a shared experience. For example, if you both love of Mexican food, schedule regular dinner dates to catch up. Or, if you’re both passionate about a particular cause, consider volunteering together.
  • Parents and Teens – Showing your teen you care about what’s happening in their lives goes a long way toward forging a connection. Sometimes teens feel misunderstood or that their parents are always disciplining them. Take time to ask them what’s important to them and what types of things they like to do, and then go do those things with them. Show them that you care and that you like spending time with them. As parents, it can be difficult to focus on the present moment with all of your other responsibilities and things on your to-do lists. It is important, however, to be mindful of each moment you spend with your teen so you can truly listen and hear what they are saying.
  • Adult Child and Parent – As your parents age, you may need to transition to the role of caregiver. Schedule time to sit down together to have an open discussion about how this may affect your relationship and steps you can take together to make the change comfortable for both parties.
  • Friendships – Strong friendships can help ward off depression and keep us active and mentally fit throughout life. That’s why it’s especially important to make time for these relationships. Try scheduling regular friend dates, or if it’s too difficult to make extra time, try coordinating with other things already on your calendar. For example, if you hike outside every Saturday morning, ask a friend to join you.
  • Boss and Employee – As with any relationship, good communication is important. If conflict arises, make sure you acknowledge it and then work together to find a solution that everyone agrees with. It may also help to remember you are both people outside of your jobs and get to know your boss on a more personal level. For example, invite your boss to lunch to get to know him or her personally.

If you need additional help strengthening the relationships in your life, Shawnee Mission Health offers several classes and events focused on this topic, such as Becoming a Love and Logic Parent and CREATION Health.