Building Healthy Families

Since there are often more discussions about unhealthy patterns in families, one might wonder what a healthy family looks like. Just like eating life-sustaining food and exercising, it’s important to have a positive home environment for the best outcomes in life. 

Common themes for family healthiness are keeping boundaries, making your home a safe environment and allowing for mistakes without shame or retribution.

Keeping Boundaries

In a family unit, each person should have their personal space and privacy without other’s trespassing. If other family members would like to enter their private space, they should ask permission and get acceptance. If the member would like their space to remain private without intrusion, other family members should respect their request. This goes for any type of encroachment of body, mind or spirit. The family member gets to choose who they will allow into their space. Other family members should respect the wishes of the person requesting their privacy. They should be self-controlled and not quick to reject the wishes of the family member. When boundary lines are crossed, the family member should be assertive in letting the person responsible know that they crossed that line and that it is not acceptable behavior. There should be empathy and respect for each family member’s decisions whether they agree with them or not.

Safe Environments

Each person should feel that they are in a safe environment, free from worry of abandonment or being rejected or removed from the unit. Members should hold unconditional love for one another and be able to express themselves freely without fear. Safe environments can be built by creating trust and healthy communication. The group can hold differing opinions without fear of put-downs or prejudices. Closeness can be created by spending time together, encouraging each other and being clear in their communications. Each family member should contribute and be responsible for their part in the unit. They should meet needs appropriately. They should appreciate each other and make family a top priority.

Allowing For Mistakes

Mistakes will happen and should be planned for so that it is a safe learning and growing place for members. Any conflicts should be handled quickly and time should be given to explore what went wrong in order to improve, not to shame or plan retribution. The members should steer clear of put downs, name-calling, back-stabbing and gossip. Prejudices must be addressed so that no one family member is feeling less than the rest. Favoritism and creating pecking orders should be avoided. Each family member should be valued for who they are and how they are designed and not lessened in the family unit by mistakes. Whatever errors occurred should be addressed and handled by the parties involved so that a mutual healing and understanding takes place.

These are just a few tips. Human dynamics can be very complex so that time is often needed to deal with issues. But it’s better to start handling them now, like when you notice you’re eating too much, or exercising too little, before it gets out of hand. So, go be a healthy family. And, let others know how you did it.

Sources:, July/August 2016, 7 Characteristics of Healthy Families, Becky Sweat,, How to Have Healthy Family Relationships With Less Stress, Elizabeth Scott, January 10, 2023,, Five Signs of a Healthy Family, Casey D. Bearss