Creating peace in your family

Shalom Bayis is a Hebrew folk term that means literally, peace in the home.

In order to get a deeper look at peace in the home, we also need to understand what causes distress in the home. Peace in the home requires a healthy relationship between the couple. It also requires love, respect, and cooperation between the children themselves and their relationship with their parents.

It might be helpful to understand that all couples and families go through challenges and frustrations. Each member of a family has strengths and weaknesses. Life is full of challenges, and these challenges place pressure on all members of a family in their own way.

Peace in every family takes effort

Our family context is the circumstance we find ourselves in. As adults, we have a greater capacity to change and modify our circumstances for the better. If we are not happy, if we are experiencing conflict with our spouse, our children, or even those in the community outside the home we have the ability to take action and create change.

This is less true for children. If a child is struggling with a mental health issue such as anxiety, depression, or difficulty controlling his or her behavior, help will have to come from outside; he or she will need the intervention of an adult.

Family Therapy for children with emotional or behavioral issues

When a child is struggling with an emotional or behavioral disorder, the entire family is affected. Emotional disorders such as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or even depression can occur in children as well as adults and adolescents. Behavioral disorders are treated by working with the entire family to understand the dynamics of communication and other aspects that affect a child's behavior. This often benefits the entire family, not just the child.

Often times a family will be at a total loss as to how to help their struggling child. Contrary to what some parents believe, an emotional disorder is not usually just a “phase” that a child will grow out of. Sometimes children need help to learn how to manage what they are experiencing.

For example, a child who regularly experiences intense anxiety or sadness will not know why or how to change in order to be or feel like everyone else. Often the parents and siblings of this child will not understand or know how to help the child. Anxious children often experience greater difficulty attending school; they worry about their family and themselves. They understand that they worry more than other children their age.

In a situation such as this, the child and the entire family will benefit from therapy. Children actively think about and interpret their environment. Therapy can help the child learn coping skills and understand how their thinking affects their emotions. The rest of the family will likely benefit from the same educational approach.

Peace in the home equals happy, healthy children and adults

In order to develop and thrive, both adults and children need to feel safe and secure. To understand this in terms of child development, we know from neuroscience research that if a child is faced with emotional distress, fear, and conflict on an ongoing basis, all his or her energy and resources are used to manage the stress.

When this is happening, the child misses out on important opportunities for cognitive and social learning. They are more concerned with a conflict going on at home than with their school assignments or relationships with their peers.

In order for all members of the family to grow and develop (including the parents) a feeling of security is required. On an unconscious level, we need our family to survive, and our survival needs must be attended to first before we can focus our attention on less important things such as school, social, and career development. We need peace.

Peace outside the home and online

Our lives are no longer contained within the home and places of school and employment. We are now exposed to the vast world of online media. Even organized groups with the best of intentions can become unsafe places where our views or opinions are attacked. We can become victimized by people who wish to harm us without ever coming face to face with them.

How do we protect ourselves from conflict while engaging with the world in a meaningful way? We need to support each other both within and outside of the family unit. Striving for understanding even when our points of views differ can build a stronger healthier community. In this way, we start close to home and then expand outward, all the while keeping in mind our own needs and boundaries, especially when interacting with the online world.

If your family is suffering from a lack of shalom bayis, click here to get help for your family, your relationship, and your teenagers in Brooklyn.

Outside of Brooklyn? Click here to get help for your family from one of our licensed therapists.

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12 Feb 2019

By Dr David Lefkowitz

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