Family Love: What It Is, What It Looks Like, And How To Make It Happen

By: Mary Elizabeth Dean

Updated September 01, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Laura Angers

It's easy to say, "I love my family," but family love is about more than these simple words. Family love is a special type of love that comes with its unique feelings, behaviors, challenges, and rewards. Once you understand what it truly is, you can learn how to build family relationships by genuine love and care.

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What Is Family?

A family isn't necessarily about blood relations-it's a group of people that function as a unit. Often, but not always, this includes parents and children.

Family can also mean all the descendants of a common ancestor. Some people consider their friends like family. However, when we speak of family love, the love you have with your friends might or might not fit, depending on what type of relationship you have.

What Is Love?

Love is a word that's been used in so many ways, it's nearly lost its meaning. We may say we love ice cream or skiing when what we mean is that we enjoy it. Love is of course commonly used to describe romantic or sexual feelings and behaviors.

In the context of family love, the term refers to bonds characterized by deep affection, respect, loyalty, and healthy attachment. Family relationships are different from other types of bonds. The following characteristics of family love set it apart from other types of love relationships.

You Can't Always Choose Your Family

You typically choose the person you want to start a family with when you're an adult. You might choose children to adopt or bring into your family.

But children have no choice about who is in the family group. You don't get to choose your siblings, and you certainly don't get to choose your parents. Despite these limitations, family love still flourishes. It isn't always healthy love, but it is a deep connection, nonetheless.

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You Face the Challenges of Living Together

Living in a family unit usually means sharing a living space. Privacy is limited because of your proximity. You must share certain belongings, such as dishes, appliances, and furniture. You compete for the other family members' attention. What's more, to keep that space peaceful, each family member needs to respect the rights of the others to whatever degree is possible.

For example, an infant is a member of the family, but they aren't capable of understanding how to respect other family members. The more mature that person gets, though, the more they need to be mindful of how their behavior affects others.

What Strongly Affects One Family Member Affects the Others

When one member of a family experiences a profound loss, the other members of the family are usually affected by that person's distress. A family member who has lost their job or a friend typically expresses their emotion in some way, whether they intend to or not. Their behavior might change, and they may have less capacity to manage daily living. The other family members feel the effects directly or indirectly.

You Have Family Traditions

Nearly every family has traditions. Family traditions may relate to holidays, but they can also be associated with other special days, situations, or rites of passage. If all the family members follow the traditions of the family, everyone knows what to expect. However, when something disrupts a family tradition, family members may feel disappointed or even distressed.

You Share Family History

Families comprised of parents and their biological children share a history that goes back generations. Even if a child is adopted, they share their family's story. The history of the family influences the current relationships between family members, so it's important that everyone resolves old hurts and misunderstandings to have healthy family love.

It's Unconditional Love

Healthy family love is unconditional. No matter what the other family members say, do, or feel, you still love them for who they are. You might have completely different opinions and political views. You might strongly disapprove of something another family member does. You might even have to remove yourself from the family situation. In a sense, they are still your family and always will be.

You Show Respect for Each Other

When you love your family members, you show your respect through your words and actions. You show family love by honoring the other family members' rights, even when you don't agree with their choices.

You Work Together to Achieve Family Goals

Just as each person can have their own goals, families also have group goals they work together to achieve. For example, a family might decide to go on a camping vacation. Each member may need to help by arranging their schedules, packing up what they need for the trip, and being present and ready to go at the agreed-on time.

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You Communicate with Each Other

Effective communication is vital for healthy family love. Unless each person communicates their needs, the other family members aren't likely to help. Family members use words and gestures to express both their concerns and their approval.

You Enjoy Activities Together

Families that enjoy activities as a group build a stronger family love. Whether you're going on an outing or spending the evening playing board games, the interactions between you bring you closer together.

Building Family Love

Healthy family love is a choice that starts with the parents. It isn't something that happens without thought and dedication. There are several ways to build healthy family love throughout the lifespan of the family.

Form Healthy Attachments

As parents, you have a unique opportunity to teach your children how to have a healthy, secure attachment. By being a responsive caregiver, you can start the secure attachment that research has shown leads to higher social functioning later in life. Along with better mental and physical health, a secure attachment gives your child a greater capacity to form healthy attachments with others.

Take Responsibility for What's Yours to Do

Each person in a well-functioning family takes responsibility for what is theirs to do. The parents need to make sure everyone's physical and emotional needs are met until the children assume responsibility or become an adult.

Sometimes it can be hard to figure out what you need to take responsibility for and what you need to leave for another family member. Talking to other parents you admire or attending a parenting support group can help you sort out who needs to be responsible for what. If you're still confused, a therapist can help.

Encourage Healthy Development and Independence

As your child gets older, they develop new skills and abilities. They have more opportunities to explore their world as they develop the independence needed to choose their activities outside the home. As a parent, you need to encourage their development into an emotionally strong, healthy adult. Give them the tools they need to learn. Give them support as they find their own identity. Allow them to move away from you emotionally at times while providing a safe space for them to return to.

Value Each Family Member

No family member is more important than any other. Each family member is valued as the unique person they are. Show each family member that you appreciate them every day. Tell them you love them. You can also show them your love through gestures, facial expressions, and touch.

Be Kind

Kindness is sometimes undervalued. Kindness, though, is a hallmark of healthy family love. Not hurting others unnecessarily must be balanced with self-esteem for authentic kindness. Be kind as a family member. If you're an adult, encourage your family members to be kind to each other.

Make Time for Each Other

A family that lives under the same roof but spends no time together doesn't have the opportunity to develop and maintain healthy family bonds. If the parents are so busy with their adult lives that they ignore their children, the family can't be healthy, and the children suffer. Give your family members enough of your time to enjoy a strong connection.

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Practice Forgiveness

When you don't forgive a friend, it's easy to let them drift out of your life. However, when a family member has wronged you, it's much more difficult to give up that relationship. You need to forgive your family members to re-establish healthy bonds after the conflict has been resolved.

More Ways to Build Family Love

Conflict resolution is a major challenge for most families. Healthy families increase family love and understanding by learning communication skills. When families communicate well, there are fewer conflicts, and the conflicts that happen can be resolved.

In families with growing children, family love changes as they mature. Being prepared for these changes will safeguard your family love.

Your family can provide a strong support system for you. If you have a healthy family love, you contribute by helping other families meet their needs and satisfy their desires. Unless you're the parent of a child, you don't take on responsibility for them; you offer your assistance because you want to make their life easier.

Building family love is a full-time and often stressful job. If you find you can't manage family relationships in a healthy way, talking to an experienced professional might benefit you.

A counselor can help you by teaching you communications skills, helping you deal with unhealthy prior attachments, and building healthy self-esteem for yourself and among your family members. If you need this type of help, you can talk to a licensed counselor for online family therapy at BetterHelp. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

"Alisha has let me view situations in another perspective. Like the stressful times I've gone (still going) through with my family and my work. I'm really grateful for her time to listen to what's on my mind and really making me comfortable to share so much with her. Thank you, Alisha!"

"Jack is great! He helps me keep things in perspective and uses visualizing methods to help me focus on what I need to do for myself, which I turn helps my family be more solid. Helps me fill my toolbox and make sure I focus on me even when I'm trying to take care of everyone else. Jack is great and so is BetterHelp!"

Conclusion

Family love isn't a myth. You can have the kind of family love that makes life more satisfying. When you do, everyone in the family can benefit. Take the first step today.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is a family love?

Family love is the kind of love that exists within a family. Family love is characterized by a unique type of feelings, challenges, behaviors, and rewards. No family is perfect. Unlike the other relationships where you get to choose whom you are with, you cannot choose your parents or siblings. However, you can build family love with people who are not biologically related to you.

The love of family is a certain type that stays steady. Though different family members have their own opinions about issues and may occasionally falter or even act the worst, you love them for who they are. You respect them in the way you talk with them and relate with them. You also honor their rights regardless of how you feel about their choices. Eventually, the love of family helps you to work together to reach great heights. You give your family time caring and love, and they do the same for you, in most cases.

2. Why is love important in a family?

Loving your family members isn't about you making statements such as 'I love my family.' It entails genuine love and care. And there must be love in a family. Love is a compass that guides the building of a well-knit family. 

For instance, to build a happy family, family members must experience deep affection, loyalty, and a healthy attachment. Love creates a bond, and it is that love that would help your family develop even in other areas. Not all families are alike. That is why you'd discover that while some family and friends form a loving, caring close-knit group, others might not be close. When such a family is unhappy, what can change the situation is love. Whether you have a large loving caring close family or not, in truth a family can change at any moment. Sometimes after a new birth or the loss of a loved one, a family can become closer and make up for lost time.

3. What are good family quotes?

Good family quotes are the words that are spoken by renowned personnel and average members of the society to promote the love and bond that can exist in a family, whether that’s a biological family or a formed family. Family quotes are inspirational quotes to remind us of the importance of family. For instance, Maya Angelou said, "The love of the family, the love of one person can heal. It heals the scars left by a larger society. A massive, powerful society." The quote speaks the same message as one of the inspiring quotes given by Mother Teresa, which goes: "If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family."

There are several other life quotes by society members like Mother Teresa. They are quotes to remind family and friends that families are the compass to a peaceful society. Some of the family quotes are, "It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. Bring love into your home, for this is where our love for each other must start."

To promote world peace, society must constitute loving, caring, close-knit families. Indeed, "Families are the compass that guides us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights and our comfort when we occasionally falter" - Brad Henry. As you may have noticed, these quotes emphasize the importance of family and how caring and love regarding your family may be able to make a positive change in the world. These inspirational family quotes apply, whether you have a supportive family or not. Even if your family isn’t as close-knit as others, you can still be there for each other when it counts.

4. What is a family relationship?

A family relationship is one that involves interaction between family members. It is usually characterized by sharing a home and love, dealing with challenges, carrying out family traditions, and real communication. For my family relationship to lead to success, I need to spend time with my family. That way, the family gets to know each other, and the family loves other members the more. 

One of Lee Iacocca’s family quotes states that 'The only rock I know that stays steady, the only institution I know that works, is the family.' The quote reveals that though friendships and families are alike, what truly works is the family. The large loving caring close family members are known for their significant role in dominating virtues of human race.

5. What's the true meaning of family?

Though the family is mostly described as a group of people with blood relations, it means more than that. Yes, a basic family is made up of parents and children. However, a family is beyond that. People who descended from a common ancestor are called family. And even without such descent, your friends who are also not related to you by blood can be your family. 

The true meaning of family is found among people who function as a unit and are interested in each other's wellbeing. The family loves, family serves as an inspiration to reach great heights and our comfort.  Happy families are alike in their willingness to celebrate each other. Hence, days such as father's day and mother's day are essential to them. They come up with gift ideas and quotes to share. Overall, a family is any family you create for yourself. This may be your biological family, or it could be other people.

6. Is family more important than love?

Life quotes such as Friedrich Nietzsche's "In family life, love is the oil that eases friction, the cement that binds together, and the music that rings harmony" settle questions such as above. Family is a special kind of group bound by blood and love. The bond is different from what exists in other forms of relationships. However, it is love that sets that bond. 

Therefore, you cannot say that one is more important than the other. According to Anthony Brandt, "Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family." Yet, it is love that keeps the family attached, and every member loyal. Family quotes remind us of the importance of family and the relevance of love within the family. You may wonder, once family love is discovered doesn’t love change everything or fix it? The answer will be different for everyone.

An unhappy family is unhappy, most likely, for a number of different reasons. Love and family do not always go hand in hand for some. Even if all members of a family are alike each unhappy family will take issue with one another, in some circumstances. This may indicate that there is trauma that hasn’t been dealt with in the past.

7. Why is family so important?

Family is the only institution that you get to join, without choosing. You are also bound to your family members for life, whether you like them or not. According to Michael J. Fox, "Family is not anything, it is everything." Every man is created strengthened and maintained by their family. It is your family that you share your space, fears, and doubts with. Whether it is father's day or not, they are most likely the ones you want to share your victories with, and appreciation for their support.

Just as George Bernard Shaw said that "A happy family is but an earlier heaven," the family is your sustenance. They are the ones who get affected by what affects you. Hence, they are essential for your wellbeing and growth, regardless of your level.

8. How do you show love to your family?

Since love doesn't end at proclaiming it, you have to show love to the people you call your family. You can show love to your family by sharing what you have with them. You can share opportunities, space, belongings, and others. Apart from sharing with them or celebrating e.g., your father on father's day, and your mother on mother's day, set apart time to celebrate each other's greatest virtues.  Family and the home are the safest havens, so you should keep them with love. 

And if you have family in another city, you can also give them surprise visits. Building a caring, close-knit family involves sacrifice. You have to respect other families' opinions and be there for them when, for instance, they lose their friend or a job. By giving a gift to a family member in need, or being each other's comfort when we occasionally need shoulders to lay on, we form a caring, close-knit family. As members of a family, you show love by being an inspiration to reach great heights. 

9. What is the best thing about family?

The best thing about family (whether biological or not) is that family stays. Members of your family would accept you, regardless of your actions or dispositions. They may be reluctant to share their space or properties with you, but they always share. And what they do affects you, just as what you do affects them. The bond is just that strong. 

Your family is there to carry on family traditions with you. So if your family celebrates special days such as father's day, or perform certain rites, you do them together. Whether you are adopted or not, you are unconditionally loved. You all share the same family story that transcends generations. In fact, family members often feel disappointed when traditions are flouted. 

10. Why is relationship so important?

Relationship is very important because of what it entails. For instance, no man is an island, as no man knows it all. One way or the other, there is a need to relate with those around you. You also need to ask for help to achieve a goal. You, therefore, need relationships to move forward. 

While engaging in relationships such as the sexual, romantic, platonic, filial relationships, it is important to note each relationship's importance. Whichever relationship you get into, you should have it at the back of your mind that they can contribute to your wellbeing and greatness. At the same time, you should relate with people with respect and honor, attempting to resolve any conflicts. That way, communication continues, and life becomes better for all, and world peace is promoted. 

11. What is healthy relationship?

A healthy relationship involves two parties coming together to achieve a common goal acceptably. Even without being related by blood, the association is based on genuine love and care. That is why some people call their friends family. It means that they share a lot with them, and respect each other, regardless of their personality.

Whether you need gift ideas for father's day, or a shoulder to cry on, a healthy relationship is there.

Some friendship quotes that depict healthy relationships are: 

"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." – Walter Winchell

"A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down." – Arnold H. Glasgow.

These friendship quotes are quotes to remind us of what healthy relationships should be like. 

12. What are healthy family relationships?

Healthy family relationships are the type that exists within a family where love and respect live, regardless of the variety of opinions and personalities. A healthy family relationship is characterized by a deep connection, sharing, and respect for family members' rights. The family is there for each other in times of need. 

Also, the family doesn't just share family history. They also share family traditions that they hold dear. There are even certain rituals you help family member’s with over time. Perhaps you help your aunt remember to take her pills or take your mother’s dog for a walk each day. Their love is unconditional, regardless of their differing views, or disapproval of a member's actions. It involves realizing that your family is your family, so you work together to achieve individual and family goals. To have a healthy family relationships, in every conceivable manner the family you are in should love you.

If your family doesn’t love you unconditionally, this may mean that you have a dysfunctional family, which is marked by abuse or neglect, instead of a supportive family, who loves and nurtures you.

13. What family really means? 

The family goes beyond relationship by blood. It includes respect for each other, and acceptance of everyone in the family, regardless of their views. Genuine love, care, loyalty, deep affection, and healthy attachment are family characteristics. This implies that the family isn't necessarily a group of people connected by blood, but one that functions as a unit. 

Besides parents and children, your family can be made up of other folks that you love.

14. What a beautiful family meaning?

A beautiful family is one where different people come together along with their differences to carry on family traditions with their parents, children, or siblings. They are interested in each other's lives without disrespecting them or invading their privacy. A beautiful family serves as an inspiration to every individual. They support them in achieving their individual goals, as well as family goals. A beautiful family faces challenges, which they handle together. Family members create little jokes amongst each other or have fun teasing each other.


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