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Family as Best-of-All Friends

March 5, 2023

Another Way for week of February 24, 2023

Family as Best-of-All Friends

Editor’s note: Fifth in a five-week series on friendship.

How can we make our families some of our closest friends?

My husband and I both read the advice column now called Dear Annie, a spin off of the Abby and Ann Landers long running columns. I do find it a little frustrating though because so many of the problems and questions people inquire about focus on really awful family relationships. How terrible when the love and fun and companionship we are supposed to find in families is skewed by members who have extreme difficulties getting along—and indeed have stopped trying to be friends in family. A lot of that stems from our family backgrounds and how we ourselves were brought up: happy and loving families tend to produce happy and loving families.

Dad and Mom celebrating their 50 wedding anniversary.

The family I grew up in, and the daughters we were blessed to raise are NOT perfect, and far from it. But, overall, at least as far as I know and can tell, we get along. We have had hard and imperfect times but we love each other very much and try to keep connections going and strong. We are friends.  

How does that happen, and what do we need to work at?

A firm faith in God is one place to begin. “God is love” goes one familiar hymn and the Bible places a huge emphasis on sharing and practicing love not only for friends but indeed for our closest family members. While there are many families who do not hold or practice any faith, being brought up in a home where the foundation is love as shown to us through God’s own love for us, is a great place to start.

In my book Becoming a Better Friend, I relate a story of one time I came home from a brief business trip very excited and anxious to reconnect with our children. While they greeted me excitedly, too soon all three children were clamoring for me at once: to see this picture they drew, to get a scissors, and of course, to fix supper. The people who took care of the kids reported that they were really good while I was gone. So why did they turn into little monsters for me, the mother they professed to love so much as soon as I got home?

Well of course that is normal behavior. Home is the place where it is safe to let our shirts hang out, children and adults alike. But home is also where the people we love most are—and loving relationships can easily be damaged at home if we are not careful. Family members are our first and last friends, but sometimes we treat them like enemies.

A good family starts with the relationship to our mates—and usually that particular friendship was sealed with “till death do us part” vows. So when we toast five, ten, twenty-five years of marriage and more, it is really worth celebrating. A good marriage provides a natural environment for daily companionship. Of course, every marriage has up and down cycles. We fail each other and make mistakes.

What are some tips for keeping our family relationships positive and loving? Make an ongoing mental commitment to work at closeness. Plan a date with your spouse or a fun activity with the children. Do something nice for each member of your family this week. If you still have children at home, (of if they visit) use your smartphone to record a conversation at mealtime—and play it back when everyone is in a good mood. If you’re going through a difficult time as a family, talk about your differing needs: “What I need/want most from my family right now is ….”

Things are far from easy as families. Every family I know has its up and down times—times of not getting along. The key to getting along among friends and families is rooted in your general outlook on life and practicing love on an every day basis.


What things keep your family connecting?

What are some of your favorite activities together?

Comment here or write to me at Another Way, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834, or email

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of ten books, most recently Memoir of an Unimagined Career. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

One Comment
  1. As I’m tapping these words, the melody of “Love at Home,” introducing Ruth Brunk Stoltzfus on the Heart to Heart program is playing in my mind. Of course, LOVE is key, but so is HONOR. When we cleared out Mother Ruth’s and Aunt Ruthie’s home a few years ago, the pastor’s wife marveled at our devotion to curating our loved ones’ possessions, but we three sisters saw it as a way to honor their memory.

    You know well the story of my forebears and also the story of my marriage, told with total honesty in My Checkered Life: A Marriage Memoir. My hope and prayer is that readers can realize commitment is the key to hanging in there when the going gets tough. You and I are both blessed with a godly heritage which we are striving to preserve. This post reflects that, Melodie. 😀

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