Families face forces that can pull them apart. When a family begins to mature, that potential loss of connection, that feeling of something changing, is difficult to confront.
And it makes communication even more important.
“This idea of feeling connected becomes very reinforcing, to all of us, and it contributes to happiness, it contributes to mental health and it does contribute also to physical health,” says John Northman, a psychologist from Buffalo, NY.
“It’s well known that when people feel better connected, that they feel better physically, they’re certainly less likely to feel depressed — or if they do, they’re in a better position to get out of being depressed.
“Overall, it leads to a feeling of a greater degree of support and connection psychologically,” he said.
Help for family members can take many different forms, Vangelisti says, including:
- Emotional support: “Making us feel better, sharing in happy moments together,” she says.
- Esteem support: “Making us feel good about ourselves, validating when we’re doing well, helping out when we’re not doing as well.”
- Network support: “That sense of belonging. That’s really important with families, so you kind of have a home base, a place where you feel accepted and you belong, no matter what.”
- Informational support: How to do things that maybe were done by others in another family setting.
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