Therapist couple gives tips on building strong family ties

Don and Deb MacMannis Credit: Provided
Don and Deb MacMannis
Credit: Provided

Parents might often feel they are running a daily gauntlet, from backpacks and breakfast in the morning to bedtime tuck-ins. But every now and again, parents should take a few minutes to check in with each other and their children.

One therapist couple, Don and Debra MacMannis, have 10 tips in a new book they say are needed to create lasting bonds called “How’s Your Family Really Doing?”

Don, a child psychologist who also writes music for children, says the book was inspired after 35 years of families reaching out for help, often asking the same questions.

The couple gave Metro some advice on how families can form stronger ties, starting with taking time to connect:

1. Catch moments in between — like driving in the car, eating a snack, walking the dog — to share thoughts and feelings with your loved ones.

2. Too many parents give all the love and attention to the kids. Make a conscious decision to be more affectionate with your partner. Remember the early days of courtship when you held hands, kissed and hugged hello and goodbye (and then some), shared back rubs or cuddled up on the couch? Do that again.

3. Deeply listening to one another can be a profound way to reconnect if distance has crept between you. If you are the listener, make eye contact, take deep breaths to keep yourself calm, centered and quiet, and remember not to give unsolicited advice.

4. Words and gestures can also be affectionate. We obviously feel more loved when complimented rather than criticized. Use pet names like sweetheart or honey, and don’t forget to say the precious words “I love you.”

5. Use voicemail, email or texts to send your love or to check in on how your partner’s day is going. Even little gestures help us feel loved.


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