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What’s Our Family About, Anyway?

What is Family- (2)

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:

Parent: What do you think our family is all about? I mean, what’s important to us?

Kids: Fun. Having a good time. Jumping on the trampoline. Getting what we want.

Parent: What else do you think our family is all about?

Kids: Ummm… I don’t know. We just like to have a good time.

This was all it took for the parents to look at each other in a partly disgusted, partly horrified manner. Wanting to get to the heart of their challenges, Ted acknowledged with a sigh, “They are just miniature versions of us, I guess.” Dawn agreed, with a solemn downward look. “We can be pretty selfish with our time and things and now they are behaving just like us. Yuck!”

Ted and Dawn went on to acknowledge how their kids’ behavior had become ugly, unrefined reflections of their own. They didn’t like what they saw: demanding, manipulative, me-first attitudes, willing to do whatever they needed to do to get what they wanted.

It became clear that Ted and Dawn had created an environment in their home where entertainment and immediate gratification was “what it was all about.”

It can be easy to dwell on what’s wrong at times like this, but we have learned about the power of focusing on whatever is right and good (see Philippians 4:8). So I asked about the exceptions to what they’d described, and about whatever is good.

Though frightened for the future, and disgusted by the past, Ted and Dawn were willing and eager to chart a new course to to redefine “what our family is all about.” So, we went on a treasure hunt to find the unique stamp of God on their family. We discovered many talents, possessions, and opportunities that had largely been viewed and used for selfish purposes. With growing excitement we uncovered treasures like: justice, mercy, music, compassion, determination and teaching.

At the end of our coaching session, the parents knew there was a great opportunity in front of them and they were excited! We discussed a few options for how they could talk with their kids like beginning with the basic question, “Hey kids, what do you think our family is all about, anyway?” or “What do you think is unique about us as a family?”

Begin to ask God to show you some glimpses of what His purposes are for your family. Even consider writing a family mission statement to help you stay on track. Here are some steps Ted and Dawn committed to take (and you could as well):

  • Pray with your kids that God would bring someone into your life that your family could help and serve.
  • Look for unique ways that your kids could use their special gifts to bless others. For example, could your artist draw a picture for someone? Could your musician play a song for someone who could use a lift or teach someone else how to peck a song out on the piano? Could you reach out to a struggling family or single mom and child on one of your kids’ athletic teams?

When families figure out “What they are all about” something changes. The eyes of the family begin to see their greatest gifts and talents and how God can use them to reach a world in need.

Apply It Now:

  • What is your family all about? How would you and your kids answer?
  • What unique gifts and abilities exist in your family that God could use to meet others’ needs?
  • Who is someone your family is uniquely positioned to help?
  • What can you do in the next few days to serve as a family?

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Chad Hayenga
Chad Hayenga
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