It has become the exception rather than the rule for families to be happy, healthy, and supporting in American culture and life anymore. Somewhere and sometime in between the MTV revolution and the smartphone revolution, the family unit in the country broke down and then seemingly fell apart. It does not have to be this way for those parents, and particularly dads, who are committed to making the traditional idea of a family work for the sake of their children. Five helpful tips can help to make this seemingly impossible task achievable.

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5 Ways to Have a Healthier, Happier Family

These five simple tips can help to make this seemingly impossible task achievable.

Stay Married

A wise family counselor once said that the best way you can possibly love your children as a father is by loving their mom, and as a mother is by loving their dad. This may sound like an old-fashioned concept and no longer be the stylish trend in the world in which we live nowadays, but it is still true nonetheless. Investigate most any divorced family, and you will see children that in the majority of cases grow up unhappy, lack confidence, and feel betrayed or let down by their parents. It is even worse for the children if they take the divorce personally and believe that they were the ultimate cause of the split.

Take Your Children to Church

Once again, this is not something that every parent does anymore, but it can make a difference for those who do. Children’s programs and youth groups at any church instill good values and create positive peer pressure on impressionable young children and teens in those critical formative years when they need these the most. Weekly meetings and youth group outings similarly help to keep your children and teens occupied in positive and constructive events that do not involve heavy drinking, experimenting with drugs, or engaging in petty or serious crime. A youth pastor also gives your children someone else with whom they can discuss their problems and moral issues. In the battle to have a happy and healthy family, you can use every ally you can possibly enlist.

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Eat Dinners Together

The family that sits and talks at the dinner table together invariably stays together. The family dinner in America has become a lost art. Thanks to constant distractions like computers, the Internet, televisions in every room, smartphones with more apps than you can possibly imagine, and after school activities like sports and music to name just a few, it has become nearly impossible to sit everyone down together at the same time.

This is only true if you accept it and allow it to be so. Unless you are working two jobs or a non-traditional hours job at dinner time, you have the choice to decide what to do with your evenings and how your family will spend them. If you start a tradition early on and set expectations to have dinner together most nights while your children are still young, this becomes easy to continue. Some might say this is too much like the “Leave it To Beaver” Americana of yesteryear. We say this is precisely why it works.

Regular Family Activities

Healthy and happy families have something in common. They do things together. This does not mean all the time and every day. Even a twice a month or once a week family outing or activity can and does make all the difference in the world for the members of a family feeling a common bond and connection to the rest of the group and the family unit as a whole. Remember you do not have to break the budget to do something simple like take a nature walk at your local nature preserve or park, go to the beach, walk around an interesting store or the mall, or even play a family card or board game together. Monopoly, Charades, and Twister still work wonders for families as they have for many decades.

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Take a Genuine Interest in Your Children and Their Personal Lives

This starts with hugging and kissing them goodnight and extends to proving to them that their world is not trivial or irrelevant to you. To little children (and even more grown up ones who simply hide it better), your opinion and approval of them, particularly as their father, matters enormously. How many times have you heard stories about kids that tried one activity after another in a sadly vain attempt to win the affection or pride of their parents? As their first teachers and primary caregivers for at least their first 18 years, what you do and how you show your love and interest in their little lives will determine in large part how they feel about themselves and whether they get into trouble or not as they grow older.

There is no one single magic bullet for raising happy, healthy kids and enjoying a peaceful, rewarding, and fulfilling family life. Instead the answer lies in a choice to make the time for and invest in the lives of the people who share your roof. With a little work and commitment, you can beat the odds and create a family environment of peace, love, and security where your children and spouse love to come home from school and work and take refuge from the storm of the sometimes harsh and unforgiving outside world.