Every time my mom asked him to do one of the items on this list, my dad would echo Wesley from The Princess Bride and say “As you wish” to his Princess Buttercup. He worked hard for his princess, just as worker bees work hard for their queen.

I’m slightly terrified of bees, but the more I learn about them, the more I’ve come to respect those unstoppable workers. Bees converse through movement, a secret dance of sorts. Their zigging and zagging communicates the location of a particular flower-filled meadow to the other hive members. On average, a hive of bees will fly over 48,000 miles to accumulate enough pollen for just one quart of honey. That’s a lot of work!

For the bees, making honey is a never-ending process. Sometimes, it seemed like that list of my mom’s never ended either! Now that I’ve moved away from my boyhood home, my dad enlists my younger brother to help on the list. My dad still works hard for his princess, just with a little more gray hair. Those days of helping my dad on his “Honey do . . . ” list are past, but now I have my own Princess Buttercup who gives me “Honey do . . . ” lists.

I’ve decided there’s a reason why so many couples call each other “honey.” Sure, the name itself is cute (sweet, even), but I believe there’s a deeper reason. Think of all the time and hard work bees sacrifice for just one quart of honey. Now think of all the time and hard work required to nurture a couple’s relationship, or any relationship for that matter. There’s a correlation there, and it’s not coincidental. “Honey” represents the hard work of the bees and the hard work of the couple.

It would be a lot more difficult for bees to collect enough pollen to make honey if they didn’t have their dance. Like the bees’ secret dance, there are secrets that, if learned and applied, can make a big difference in our family relationships and lead to the sweet-tasting honey that is a happy family. Co-author Brad Wilcox and I wrote The Best-Kept Secrets of Parenting: 18 Principles That Can Change Everything, and it shares the secrets that we’ve seen bring families closer together. Here are a few of them:

Laugh together.

Laughter is the great elixir of family happiness. It can reduce embarrassment, cure sadness, improve perspective, and strengthen relationships. Humor helps and heals, so go ahead and laugh together to bring the family together.

Keep a journal.

Journals aren’t just for posterity. Journals are an ideal environment for us to “become” the people we wish to become. They help us stretch our minds and broaden our viewpoints so that we can be more understanding of family members.

Share the load.

Dishwashers don’t fill themselves, and groceries don’t magically appear. The entire family needs to share the load and participate in all the chores. As Brad’s dad would always say, “There’s just work that needs to be done, and we do it together.”

Pinpoint sources of self-esteem.

By focusing on real sources of self-esteem, like extending open communication and showing positive emotion, you can help a family member’s self-esteem grow. Watch vulnerability and negativity in your family decrease as you focus on increasing self-esteem.

As those secrets and the other secrets in our book become a part of your family through hard work and dedication, you feel will closer to your family members. We can learn from the bees and put forth the effort needed to create family relationships that are as strong as honey is sweet.

Like the article? We bet you’ll love this book:
Family life can be like a road trip—filled with unpredictable challenges, problems, and situations that try your patience. While no family is perfect, do you ever wonder how some families seem to...
The Best-Kept Secrets of Parenting

Brad Wilcox