This week while talking to people about relationships and watching my own family’s dynamics ,I was prompted to ponder “What does it take to build a strong family?” Even if I think it is OK “How do I measure it?” What have I got to focus on to make it work better? Of course there are no easy answers but I did come up with ten things to look for and work at with your family in order to build a great family.
1. Family solidarity – working together for the good of the whole family, pulling together, overcoming stresses that would tend to drive you apart. What am I planning to do this week that will draw us together?
2. Fairness – offering mutual respect to all recognising that different roles also bring different responsibilities. Have the routine chores in our family been fairly distributed and rewarded?
3. Fired up – consistently seeking to build up and encourage rather than put down and discourage in both words and actions, living with passion. How can I encourage each member of my family this week?
4. Friendship – showing love and acceptance to other members of the family even when rules are broken and always being ready to talk. Do all the members of my family feel able to approach me?
5. Forgiveness – offered and received, demonstrating unconditional love in practical ways, yet also setting clear boundaries about what is expected. Have I really forgiven and moved on?
6. Feelings and facts expressed in meaningful communication in a range of love languages, remembering to use common courtesies like please and thankyou as well. What have I been sharing in my family and have I really been listening?
7. Fun together – recognising the importance of humour and the need to do look for new exciting experiences to do together and simply enjoying being there. What fun things have I planned for this week?
8. Freedom to be real – open and honest about how I feel and willing to tell the truth even when it hurts, and accept the other members of the family as they are not how I might want them to be. Am I prepared to take off my mask?
9. Follow traditions – because that provides security and routines that help us all to feel comfortable, so we all know where we fit. Am I reliable and consistent in what I do and expect from others?
10. Faith – realising that we need to believe in something bigger than us and that God wants to be part of our families as well. Am I prepared to take the lead and suggest worshiping together this weekend?
Families are important, and no matter what part you play as parent, child, sibling or grandparent, you are responsible for how strong they are. Don’t wait for someone else to take the lead, take steps today to reassess your role and strengthen your family!
Chaplain Ian Whitley