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Creating Healthy Families

by Melissa Benaroya

Putting Yourself and Your Relationship First!Family Photo

Creating a healthy family is not just about doing all the right things for your child and meeting all of their physical, developmental, social and emotional needs.  It’s about taking care of yourself and your relationships. On the airplane, we are told that we must put our oxygen mask on first; then we can assist those around us. The same is true in our lives. You need to be the first priority in order to care for your family. You get to do that which rebuilds and restores your energy.  Self-care is different for each of us, but is critical for all of us.

When you first became a parent, you immediately put your focus on the needs of your child. Your infant needs your attention in order to survive. However, if even your basic needs are neglected, neither parent nor child will survive. Therefore, the needs of the parents must come FIRST so the rest of the family can thrive. What if you organized your life from the perspective of ensuring that your needs are met first?

It is impossible to be patient, open and loving with our kids if we are stressed, deprived, rushed and denying ourselves.

Nurturing your relationship with your partner(s) in parenting is also an important factor in creating a healthy family. It is your partner who will sustain you when you are “done.” Partners care for you when you are sick. They do the other 100% of the work that it takes to keep a family functioning. They love you and make you laugh.

The challenge is to do one small thing each day to fuel you and your partnership because those are the two entities that are the foundation of your family.  This does not mean we ignore our child’s needs, or spend only five minutes with our children after spending the day at the spa. It simply means that in the midst of running a family, we still get to floss our teeth, give our partner a kiss, and get the work done that is required for the day. Our kids and their needs still take up the majority of our TIME, but we don’t have to sacrifice our own needs entirely.

In practice, this refocusing on fueling the parents first may mean that the parents get to go to the gym even though they have been away from the kids all day. Or that only dad takes the kids to the park so that mom can get caught up on work. Maybe the whole family goes for a walk after dinner instead of doing what the kids want. However it looks in your family, it does not mean you are neglecting the children. It means fueling the adults first so they can care for the kids.

So, what is one small thing you can do today to put yourself or your relationship first?

This is an excerpt taken from The Childproof Parent, a book co-authored by Melissa Benaroya.


About the Author

Melissa BenaroyaMelissa Benaroya MSW, LICSW, Certified Gottman Educator is a licensed clinical social worker with 16 years of experience working with children and families. Melissa has a Masters degree in Social Work, is a Credentialed School Counselor and is trained in Positive Discipline. She is also a Certified Gottman Educator offering the Bringing Baby Home Program for families with young children and workshops on Emotion Coaching. Melissa practices as a parenting consultant, coach and speaker to groups and individuals by blending her clinical training with her knowledge of child development and discipline. In 2011 she co-authored the book The Childproof Parent. She co-founded of GROW Parenting and Mommy Matters as well as Green Lake Moms, a 3700+ member neighborhood web group dedicated to sharing resources, offering support, and making connections for local area moms. She provides online classes and support at

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