adult children living at home boundaries

how to nurture your family so they bloom

Nurturing a plant is providing the proper care so it will grow and bloom. Like you don’t want the plant to wither, you don’t want your relationships or your family members’ self-esteem to wither.

I am not sure what the word is for someone who is the opposite of a green thumb, but that would be me. I appreciate the beauty and wonder of plants: The multiple shades of green, the stages of growth from bud to bloom, and the intriguing behavior with light and food during the plant’s phases of life. My lack of skill with plans may be based on poor discipline when it comes to consistent care. For the plant to grow successfully, attention must be to proper feeding, placement around a light, and maybe even rotating or repotting. I have full intention to do the right thing, but I have many distractions; I easily forget to water the plant, so I cannot see the beauty that results from proper care.  The same goes for our family. We need to nurture to see them bloom.

What is Nurturing

Nurturing a plant is providing the proper care so it will grow and bloom. Like you don’t want the plant to wither, you don’t want your relationships or your family members’ self-esteem to wither. Nurturing your family is providing for their needs or helping them grow, develop, or succeed. Most parents nurture by making sure the basic needs are met, such as food and shelter. In a family, nurturing helps the family members feel secure and even increases their self-esteem. When a father takes the time to throw a football back and forth with his child, he offers interaction, encouraging words, and maybe even laughter. This form of nurturing gives the child confidence and self-esteem, and a feeling of security and ultimately promotes healthy growth.

Nurturing also prevents future problems with children as they grow up.   Think of older children who are lost and depressed and their parents doing all they can to help them get better.  Solution alternatives include therapy, special counselors, or maybe even medication. Make an effort to nurture your children while you can and while their minds are still forming. You can have a positive influence on them by using various techniques mentioned in this article. Another factor to consider when it comes to nurturing is that many people believe a person’s human mind is made from the biological composition of their parents. The nurturing mindset stands for the idea that external influences shape people’s minds.  You and your spouse need to share the goal of shaping your family’s mindset for the best future.

Decision to Nurture

The first and hardest step toward nurturing your family is deciding to nurture. It takes effort because it might not come as naturally. It takes focused intention as you decide that you want the best for your family. Take a moment to look at the state of your family right now. Does it match what you would like for your family at this moment? Are there any pockets of disorder or conflict among family members or within an individual family member’s life? Once you determine a need for nurturing, paint the picture of what it will look like when this conflict has gone away. Will arguing end? Or is it hurt? Will the laughter return and the pain go away? Hold tightly to the idea that you can play a role in healing and restoration. It doesn’t take a million dollars or a voodoo healer. It takes the love in your heart and the strength which comes from your desire to see the joy and your family again. Do you want to see joy and resilience in your family? Then let’s get started.

Getting Ready to Nurture

Nurturing takes discipline, just like I mentioned with taking care of plants. If you don’t do it regularly, you will not be successful. The first part of getting ready to nurture is to put your full focus on the kind of person you want to be when you are around your family. Embrace your identity as a nurturing person. Imagine what you will look like when you are nurturing. Tell yourself that it is your strong desire to be more nurturing to your family. You may even choose to tell others what you plan to do because it makes you more accountable when you can update your family and friends on progress with this new activity. Sometimes you find that your decision will inspire others to do the same. In this way, you become a leader and a mentor to others, and your accountability is even stronger.

How to Nurture

  • Waking UpFrom the moment you wake up in the morning and you inhale your first deep breath of the day, remind yourself of your new goal to be a nurturing person today.
  • Listening with your Heart In the next few minutes or hours, you will begin to see the family members in your household. This is when the action begins. In your interaction and communication with the family members, make sure you are looking at them when they speak to you. Show them that you’re listening with all your heart. Immediately, they will feel your real presence. They will notice their feelings and ideas being validated, and their inner strength will increase as their confidence increases. In the conversation, interact in a meaningful way: “What does that mean?” or “I don’t understand why he would do that!” Practicing Self-Control – This means you must put away your cell phone, turn off your TV show, or push the laundry to the side. There will always be so much more to do, but your family needs you.  Structure your schedule but be flexible to the unscheduled moments that are priceless. Also, be responsible enough to step away after your nurturing time to get things done. This means you can’t spend the whole day playing Animal Crossing with your children and neglect the household duties.
  • Be Resourceful –Think of activities you can do with your family to provide more opportunities for showing validation and increasing self-esteem. You can build a fort, play a board game, pick up trash on the beach, or cook a meal. Google more ideas for creative family activities. Creating a tradition for the family will make a memory that keeps the family close and provides a sense of structure in the midst of chaotic life. Think of how Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions present warm memories for families. People get excited about the decorations, the food, and the tradition of gift-giving. What traditions can you create? They can range from small touches, like lunchbox notes or ice cream sundaes on a Monday. Search online for a calendar of holidays to celebrate, such as National Bike Month (go biking) or National Military Appreciation Month (make cookies for veterans). Traditions that benefit the needy or a charity also promote a giving spirit. The fun times with family traditions will provide a solid foundation for your family members as they look back at their lives.

Understanding the Other Side of Nurturing

Nurturing isn’t all about cuddling on the couch watching your favorite Disney movie or making marshmallow crispy treats on a Sunday afternoon. Remember that nurturing is giving your family what they need, and sometimes they need structure. I recently spoke to a friend whose parents let her do anything she wanted while she was growing up, and now she struggles with a deep-rooted habit of forgetting things like doctor’s appointments and losing things like her keys or glasses. She even finds that her decision-making skills suffer. She will agree to go out with her mother on a Thursday night when she knows she has to take her son to football practice.

The choices you make in raising your children now will influence who they are in the future. You can take the steps to equip them with the tools they need by exposing them to specific processes. For example, you can teach your child to lay out the papers needing parent signatures on the kitchen counter. You can teach your high school junior to choose the different colleges she wants to consider so you can discuss the pros and cons and make a plan to visit the top colleges on her list. You can even provide structure in the early years by showing your child how you organize their toys or their clothes. Give your child opportunities to make decisions. When I took my children to Disney World, I would tell them to plan out which rides we would go on and in what order. We called it “Kids Day at Disney”. Establishing money habits early is also a good way to guide your child for future success. All of these ideas take effort, so it’s important to motivate yourself and remind yourself why you are doing this.

Nurturing is a solution that costs nothing but takes everything. When you look at your children today, remind yourself of your role in their lives and remember that everything you do comes from a place of love. Nurture your family, and you will watch them bloom!

   

Abby Hamilton
Dr. Abby is a fun-loving, neck-hugging organizational psychologist, whose favorite learning experience was watching her children grow and watching their every move. Over the years, filling her role as a mother and wife taught her everything she knows about love, communication, respect, and sacrifice. After 25 years of marriage and 23 years of parenthood, the lessons have been enriching and life-changing, and Dr. Abby realizes that there is still more to learn day and after day. She currently works as a Director of Student Services in higher education, guiding university students in their career and job search. With a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and master’s degree in Management, she just completed her PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology with her research focused on assertive communication and Filipino culture, since she is a second-generation Filipino-American. When her dissertation results showed that Filipino culture was related to low assertiveness, Dr. Abby made a point to speak on how to be assertive. She wants to tell everyone to SHINE ALREADY. Her messages are found at http://shinealready.life and also at the websites listed below. She is thrilled about joining the SheIsYou family!
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