No matter the make-up of a family, a family is a team. Each person in the family plays a unique role in the structure and function of the family. Each individual’s strengths, traits, and personality all contribute to part of the family team. Just like a sports team, everyone has their function for the team. Even if one player might seem more important, missing that player or the role they play would hinder the function of the team. The definition of a team is more than one person working together towards a common goal. Goals in families might include educating all members of the family team, building and maintaining healthy relationships, and raising children to be successful adults. University of Illinois Extension along with Ann Benjamin, M.Ed., L.P.C. discuss some elements of quality teams, especially with families, and the importance of teamwork.
• Have a shared vision for the family, such as knowing what the goal of the family team is and how you are going to work on maintaining a functioning team.
• Having trust among team members is an essential element in the family team. Kids and teens must have trust in their parents, parents must trust their kids, and parents must trust each other.
• Appreciate differences of family team members. Know that all unique skills can contribute to the strength of the team. Where some team members fall short, others have the skills and capabilities to fill the gaps.
• Have clear expectations for team members. Make sure each family team member understands their responsibilities in the team, from chores to paying bills, make sure you know who has the responsibility.
• Communication is a major key in teams. Miscommunication creates conflict and stress. Work on being open and clear with family team members to create strong communication in the family.
• Conflict resolution is a needed skill in a team dynamic. There will be times of conflict while working as team, having skills in effectively managing conflict without discouraging other team members is essential.
• Make sure everyone knows that they are an important part of the family team. Teens and children may not know how much they contribute to the family. Make sure they know they are appreciated and needed. Take time to work within the family to determine the role each person in the family has, talk about it, and see if there is anything missing.
• Give opportunities for family team members to try new skills. Provide the chance for team members to take on leadership and new responsibilities
Why are these qualities of teamwork important in families? Sure it is easy to work as a team when things are going well, but when families face times of stress or crisis, teamwork is especially important. Family teams form the first interaction for children. The skills learned in the family team setting will help to lead success in other team settings, such as school, work, or sports. Take time to think about your family team. How is your family team functioning? What can be improved? Try to take some time to develop some of the skills discussed in order to establish a winning family team.