Children thrive on feelings of affection that derive from caring and supportive families. Research suggests that the quality of family relationships is more important for children’s well-being than other factors such as size, or family composition. Whether families have one parent or two, grandparents or not, positive family relationships that promote a strong family culture promotes optimal mental health in children.
In Washington, the Flamboyan Foundation founder and president, Kristin Ehrgood, described “family engagement” as something more families wanted to learn about. So she and her staff did focus groups and built "learning partnerships" with 11 D.C. schools.
Ms. Ehrgood discovered that different kinds of engagement had various effects on relationships. The focus groups yielded five key roles families could play to help foster better mental health in children: "communicating high expectations and the value of learning to their individual child, monitoring progress and holding them accountable, supporting learning at home, advocating for them and guiding the major decisions to college or career.”
Communication is key to resolving conflict. The Flamboyan Foundation discovered "that teachers who reached out to parents through initiating face-to-face meetings, making phone calls, and sending information home about how to support student learning had higher student test scores than teachers who did not conduct this outreach.” At Concordia, teachers organize checkups (parent-teacher-student conferences) twice a year with the student’s parents on the pupil’s progress and achievements for each subject. These conferences serve as an opening for parents to understand the school system, as well as their children’s academic performance and wellbeing in school.
Moving to a new environment may disrupt normal family life. There are many things to get used to: new workplace, a lot of strangers, and perhaps a huge language barrier to get over. All of them could cause strains in a family’s relationship, but but it could be solved in many ways. Using gentle phrases such as “I would like this, what about you?”, “How was your day?”, and “Don’t worry, we can work through this together” soothes everyone’s emotions, effectively avoiding conflicts. Having more “family time” is another solution to the problem. Going out for dinners and having lots of movie nights together can strengthen the bonds between people. It can also reassure that the old way of life could indeed be continued. Shanghai has various places suitable for family time and they could be found in the entertainment section of this “Teen Life” website.
Family intimacy is extremely important to the child’s confidence, mental wellness, and academic life. During these turbulent times, it becomes important to ensure a healthy family relationship: find ways to reduce anxiety, build connectivity, and ensure communication.