A good beginning for the New Year

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Family Matters

Thomas Kulanjiyil, PsyD, PhD, is a founding member of PARIVAR International. He currently serves on the faculty of College of DuPage. He is co-editor of the book, “Caring for the South Asians-Counseling South Asians in the West.” Dr. Kulanjiyil can be reached at tk@parivarinterntional.org. For any personal or family issues contact Parivar Family Helpline:(877)-743-5711.

By Thomas Kulanjiyil
A new year has dawn on us — the year 2011.  How important is it to you that you start the year well?  What are the markers that you have started well?  Well, the answer depends on what values steer your life, and what goals you set for yourself this year. Material success is often the driving force for many today. The distressing cost of such lives are often broken relationships, breaking marriages, ever-increasing stress, and dwindling emotional and physical health.  

I would propose a key marker to help you determine if you have started the year well. Have you made your family the first priority this year?  Above all other aspirations and goals that drive your life, the wellbeing of your family ought to be your first concern. Within the family, you have two distinct roles — one as a spouse, and the other as a parent. These are two different systems, but they are interrelated. The strength of a family is only as good as these two systems are.  As a couple, your primary loyalty is to your spouse, and your commitment or lack of it to build up your spousal system is a test of your devotion to the family. Identify at least one area in your marriage, where you want to see some improvement. Be willing to do your part and encourage your spouse to do his or her part. You know that good and healthy marriages do not happen as you would expect, but you have to work towards it. It takes both of you to work as a team to get things accomplished. Strengthening your marital system can prepare you to become better and competent parents. As a parent, your first obligation is to your children. Your children may be at a critical stage in their development that this may be the most effective phase that you can positively impact them. Devote your time for them. Learn to communicate with them more effectively. Be a sympathetic and compassionate parent. Your children will appreciate this more than any other things you plan to provide them this year. Redeem the time. Take heed that the lost opportunities would never come back.  A healthy family environment, with both the spousal and parental systems functioning efficiently, creates the right conditions for personal growth and personal fulfillment. 

The secret of finishing well is not having good intentions, but rather acting upon them. After establishing some achievable goals for the year, you must begin pursuing them relentlessly. Procrastination is an obstacle to overcome. Dwelling on the past mistakes and failures can only discourage and cripple you. Stop dwelling on what is behind and press toward the new goals.  You will finish the year well.  Have a blessed and prosperous New Year!
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