Experts Reveal 3 Ways To Change The Emotional Culture In Your Family

It won't happen overnight, but you can, in fact, shift the emotional culture in your family.

family hanging out Drazen Zigic / Shutterstock

Family dynamics play a pivotal role in shaping our emotional well-being and overall quality of life.

Emotions, whether positive or negative, can profoundly influence the atmosphere within our homes and the way we connect with one another. The emotional culture that exists within a family lays the foundation for communication patterns, conflict resolution, and the development of each family member's emotional intelligence.


Numerous studies have highlighted the influence of the family environment on the development of emotion regulation skills in children. The family context, including parent-child relationships, parenting styles, and the emotional climate within the household, significantly impacts a child's ability to regulate emotions.

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While each family has its unique emotional dynamics, it is important to recognize that emotional culture can be fluid and adaptable. As we grow and evolve, so can the emotional climate within our households. By actively working to change the emotional culture, families can foster healthier and more supportive relationships, enhancing the overall harmony and happiness of everyone involved.


We asked a panel of YourTango Experts to share how one can help change the emotional culture in their family. Here are their responses.

Experts reveal three ways to change the emotional culture in your family:

1. Be realistic and address one issue at a time

An unsupportive or unhappy family culture has likely been in play for years and perhaps for generations. Since it could reflect fears, resentments, misplaced expectations, habits, patterns of communication, and differing values, among other matters.

Address it realistically. Focus on one matter of immediate consequence to everyone, something you can influence through your own behavior. Avoid blame and express positive feelings and reactions as you can. Authentic communication is key.  Keep your sense of humor and spirit of kindness, as much as possible.


- Ruth Schimel, Ph.D., Career & Life Management Consultant

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2. Try to empathize and understand before you accuse

Empathy and understanding are key to transforming family dynamics. Empathy involves stepping into others' shoes to comprehend their feelings. It requires open-mindedness and patience, considering the causes behind their behaviors rather than simply labeling them as difficult.

Understanding involves recognizing others' experiences and intentions. It often includes open conversations and active listening, enabling each person to feel heard and validated. Both these elements combined can create a more supportive and positive family environment.


- Clare Waismann, Counselor/Therapist

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3. Start with yourself

If you want to change your family culture, start with you. First, identify what is it you feel like you need from a family member that you aren’t getting from them. Then, you need to ask yourself why you need that from them. 

More often than not, we spend so much time looking for validation from others, when the truth is we need to find that validation within ourselves. When I am no longer looking to receive validation from you, I show up in a situation ready to be fully present and ready to give.


So much of the focus of the world in which we live is trying to make other people do things to make us feel comfortable about ourselves. I know – I’ve been there. Two years ago when my mother died, none of her four surviving siblings showed up to her funeral. 

She adored her siblings. They all had reasons they couldn’t be there, and the point of this is not to cast scorn on why they weren’t there. But I felt the wave of disappointment that they weren’t present to witness the celebration of their sister’s amazing life. At that moment, I chose to stand in the truth of my mother’s amazing life. Whether her siblings were at her service or not, did not change the impact my mother had on this world. 

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My focus now is not on what I need to get from other people, but instead on being present when I have the opportunity to be with family members. With that one shift in my focus – from what I’m not getting from others, to what I have to give to others – our family dynamic has changed. Is it perfect? Of course not. It will never be perfect, because I still have more growing to do.


- Jennifer Hargrave, Attorney at Hargrave Family Law

Changing the emotional culture within your family is a transformative journey that requires dedication, patience, and ongoing effort from every family member.

Remember, small steps can lead to significant changes, and by prioritizing emotional well-being within your family, you are taking a profound step towards a happier and healthier future together.


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Deauna Roane is an associate editor for YourTango who covers pop culture, lifestyle, astrology, and relationship topics. She's had bylines in Emerson College's literary magazine, Generic, and MSN.