What’s your family all about? What’s your family’s purpose? What kind of family do you want to be? How do you want to treat each other?
At Connected Families, we often talk and write about these kinds of questions because having a vision of what kind of family you want to be can change everything.
One great way to work together to have a shared vision for your family is to choose a family Bible verse!
Jesus said that “smart carpenters” build a sturdy house on solid rock. Then when the storms of life hit, nothing will move the house.
This doesn’t mean storms won’t pelt the house from time to time, and even inflict some damage. It means the house will stand strong, able to endure even the most ferocious of storms.
When I extend this metaphor into parenting, I realize that before I get too worried about the “house” of parenting skills, I need to build a strong Foundation.
The way to get the best out of people is to orient people toward others.
Think about it. When are you at your best? It’s almost always when you are contributing to the welfare of others. Certainly there are those rare situations on the athletic field or perhaps in a business arena where the individual outshines the group. But people are almost always at their best when whatever it is they are doing is for the benefit of someone else.
The same is true of your kids. The more you can help them to do what they do in ways that benefit others, the more they’ll feel a sense of purpose about their lives. The more they feel purposeful about one area of life, the better they’ll do in other parts of life.
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Tom was worried about taking his family on a short mission trip to a South Dakota Indian reservation. He told me, “We’re really interested in this trip. We think it would be good for us and for our kids. But we’re a bit scared that our stressed family dynamics will be exposed in that setting. Our last family vacation was one drama after the other.”
It was every parent’s nightmare – over two hours at the allergist’s office with three young children. The kids and I all took turns alternately getting poked for blood draws, scratched all over our backs and arms for allergy testing, and puffing to check breath levels for asthma. The results? A bountiful diagnosis of asthma and allergies for everyone, with many allergies rated 4+ on the 0-4 scale.
The markers and paper I had brought along lost their appeal about 20 minutes into the two hour process, as my stress level rose to about a 6 on the 0-4 scale!
Sometimes technology feels out of control. I am chief offender in our home. Two hours can pass and, if I’m completely honest, I don’t really remember much of what I did, saw, or believed was so important.
I recently came to realize that I was spending hours with various screens (computer, e-reader, phone, etc), as were my kids, simply because I was… BORED! Not that there weren’t other things to do, but somehow my life and the life of my kids was being sucked out of us with nothing to show for it.
Have you ever wondered what your family is “all about”? I asked this of coaching clients Ted and Dawn recently. They had come seeking help because their kids seemed ever more defiant, selfish, and irresponsible.
Eager to understand their family I asked them, “What would your kids say are the driving values you want to be sure they learn in your home? You know, how would they answer the question, ‘What is our family all about?’” Ted and Dawn weren’t sure. So I invited them to role play it with me. I played them and they played their kids. It went something like this:
The Search Institute has done years of research on how kids turn out to be healthy, contributing members of society. They are probably most well-known for their list of 40 developmental assets that kids need to be successful as adults. Number 40 has always intrigued me: Positive View of Personal Future.
In essence, when kids feel good about their future they are more likely to make wise choices, set goals and move toward them. You can help set the stage for success for your kids, by cultivating skill and joy in serving others.
Our family likes to have plans in the works for the upcoming year. A possible Florida trip this spring to see family? What about our family’s favorite summer vacation spot in the Colorado Rockies? In order to make these dreams a reality, with the family calendar looking more like a 3-D puzzle, some advanced planning is a must. Many families do a great job adequately preparing for a variety of things in the future, with kids involved in the discussion and planning: Vacations. Celebrations. College. Weddings.
But has your family ever considered this question, “What kind of family do we want to be this year?” It’s the kind of question that may seem overwhelming, which usually causes it to end up on the back-burner in most homes — mine included.
Here are 3 questions you can ask your family members over the next 3 weeks:
Fear is everywhere. I have it. My kids have it. We’re all afraid of something.
When the fear is persistent it becomes anxiety. Whether or not the anxiety is rational, when my kids are anxious and hurting, I tend to be anxious and hurting too. Of all the emotions that can paralyze, anxiety tops the list. I’ve found that my anxiety rarely if ever does anything to help my child.
So now what? This is a deep subject, but here’s one story about how we overcame anxiety with our daughter.