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3 things you may be putting before your family
Family Hiking
In dark times, true family will take your hand and walk by your side. - photo by

We all want to give our all to our families, but we're often holding back for one reason or another. If you find yourself less than fulfilled in your family relationships, it may be th
Past hurts and insecurities
Our past relationships have a huge bearing on our current family life. If you've been the victim of abuse or neglect or lived through difficult relationships, you might be putting your personal history above your current relationship with family. It's easy to withhold affection when we've been burned before, but when we put up emotional barriers, we miss out on creating meaningful relationships in our current family. Pushing out a spouse or child may not even be Vulnerability pays off in a family. You need to make yourself emotionally available to your children and your spouse, even if that means setting aside past hurts. Take the time to get professional help if you have a difficult past to overcome, and actively look for ways to show greater vulnerability in your current relationships.

Outside priorities
We sometimes get so busy providing for our families that we forget to make ourselves available to our families. As nice as nice things are, letting your career stand in the way of creating lasting family relationships is short-sighted. For those times when you really can't get away from either the workplace or out-of-home obligations, keep up good communication with family members, always letting them see how much you love and care for them.

Also, don't fall into the trap of putting friends or hobbies above your family. Long after you've stopped skiing or your best buddy moves away, your family will remain, and your relationship with them should supersede all others in your life. Find ways to integrate your family into your outside interests, and you'll all win. Take the kids on that next ski trip or bring your wife along to the football game. Women, make sure your husband is your best friend, and include him in your daily routine.

Worldly approval
The world will try to tell you how to raise your family, but don't let the judgement of others keep you from following your gut instinct. Only you know what's best for your family, and you need to take a strong leadership role in your household, whether you're a father or a mother. The world around us vies for our time and attention, and it's easy to get caught up in keeping up with the neighbors. Before you start putting the approval of others before your family's best interest, ask yourself what's really best for your family.

At the end of the day, the only person you are accountable to is yourself. When you are content in your decisions, the less you'll feel the need to justify your actions to others. It takes a strong mother or father to go in the face of conventional opinion, but your family will thank you for your courage in the end.

Family is the longest lasting relationship in your life. They are your greatest challenge and your greatest source of pride and fulfillment. While raising a family will probably be the hardest task of your life, don't let yourself be pulled away from the task at hand. When your family is the foremost priority in your life, you'll creating lasting, loving relationships.

Heather Hale is a fourth-generation Montanan, mom to two crazy boys, and wife to one amazing husband. You can learn more about her eco-conscious lifestyle at