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How to Practice Compassion for Your Family: 5 Simple Tips for Building Stronger Connections

Written by Kayla Reetz, Trauma Supports Director & Kids Yoga + Mindfulness Instructor

"Choosing to put compassion into action in the home teaches those who live beyond us how to do it too." ~ Kayla Reetz

Hello again, Compassion Compatriots.

This time, we conclude our look at compassion by getting close to home, taking a look at how we put compassion into action with those closest to us.

The saying “we hurt the ones we love the most” is common in current culture and speaks to how we give so much of ourselves to others that the ones we love most get the “leftovers.” It also reminds us that our comfort zones can often feel like the safest place for us to be our ugliest selves, giving us permission to embody just that.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The home is where compassion can have the most action and the greatest rewards.  I refer back to my first blog about sharing compassion to yourself through self-love and self-care.  Where this starts is in your home, added to your routines. In that blog, I shared ways to start a practice with and for yourself.

But this blog devotes time and energy toward thinking about our family and how those we love often deserve the most compassion from us. And yet, we may consistently fall short. 

5 Tips to Build Compassionate Family Connections

Here are some ways we can utilize compassion within our home, inspiring more communication, more vulnerable and real connection, teaching confidence, among other positive outcomes. This is by no means a “recipe for success” or the most comprehensive list, but it is meant to give you a starting point toward more awareness of compassion in your home.

1. Be Present

Yes, I stole this from the workplace blog, but it is just as important if not more so in the home. Why? Because our plan is not always “the plan”, especially when it comes to kids.  Oftentimes, whenever they think about something it becomes the time you talk about things together. 

Communication and topics of conversation cannot always be planned. When it is,  it can feel forced, thereby shutting down any honest communication and compassion that may follow.  But when someone in the house brings up a topic “out of the blue”, it’s important to acknowledge how you feel in that moment first, and decide if you have the capacity to choose compassion.  If so, it means returning to the active listening techniques such as giving that person your full attention, or as much attention as they feel comfortable with, engaging in the conversation with feedback (not problem-solving!), and showing open body language, vocal tone, and facial expressions. It means acknowledging that this time is for them and may not be about you at all.

2. Forgiveness

Yes, this was in the compassion for others blog as well, but sometimes forgiving those closest to us is the hardest forgiveness of all.   Oftentimes, there is a recognition of self-interest or even self-involvement, making the forgiveness of self required before even venturing into forgiving someone else. 

And I can’t speak for you, but sometimes when I’m confronted with a self-image of change, it is a harder pill to swallow than if it’s “someone else’s problem”.  Many times, I have to practice a mindfulness technique I learned from Challenge to Change, Inc. - Metta Mindfulness. 

In it, we visualize three things- a picture of ourselves, a picture of someone we love, and a picture of someone who challenges us or that we don’t like very much.  In the home, those last two pictures can often be one and the same.  When we visualize these pictures, we also visualize saying these four phrases to that person or those people, one picture at a time: May you be Happy, May you be Healthy, May you Feel Loved, May you be Safe.  And when you think about it, that’s what we want for those we love all the time- even when they aren’t our favorite person at the moment or when we haven’t seen them in a very long time.

3. Choose Your Battles

There is often more compassion in choosing not to argue. Now, please read that I am not saying we shouldn’t argue ever.  As a yogi, I realize that doesn’t align with the “peace and harmony” aspect, but there is compassion in recognizing the fight isn’t worth the potential outcomes too.  I say potential outcomes because, as we know, the outcome we hope for is not always the outcome that happens.

Sometimes what began as a good idea, ended up being one of the worst.  This is why compassion is sometimes letting the other person “win.”  It is letting go of our own ego not to “keep the peace” but in recognition that the relationship you have or want to build with the person is more important than the moment of recognition or success.  It is acknowledging the moment you’re in with that person isn’t the moment that will effect the most change, and you allow yourself permission to let it go for that moment and return to it another time.

4. Healthy Boundaries and Expectations

Think about the most stressful part of your day within the home. There is a good chance the most stressful part of the day or most stressful daily routine is during a transition that involves going out or coming home or bath time or bedtime. During these times, take a moment to consider how you act. What do you say and how do you say it?  More than likely, that timeframe is not a good representation of your best self or of the people that you love. 

Take a moment to consider a healthy boundary you can create for yourself and an expectation for the people in your home.  These boundaries and expectations do not cause harm (other than the sting of using more patience), but create a situation that allows you and the people you love time to adjust to what comes next.  Doing this may help everyone act with a little more compassion toward each other.

5. Leave a Legacy

Finally, compassion does not have to be a passing idea, timeframe, or even situation.  Earlier in this article, I mentioned compassion in the home can reap some of the greatest rewards.  Many times, what we do in the home carries beyond what we do in life.  It is one of the reasons altruism and parenting is so important. 

Choosing to put compassion into action in the home teaches those who live beyond us how to do it too.  It also shows the importance of trying to be compassionate- not only to others but also to the self creating more confident, caring, and kind individuals in the future. 

Thank you for reading my Compassion in Action series.  It is my hope that something you read sparks a change for you to try either with yourself, with others, in the workplace, or even in the home. In doing so, I hope you can find a little more peace- peace for your mind, your heart, and the legacy you get to leave behind one day.



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