Strengthening The Community in Your Own Home

April 25, 2007 — Leave a comment

KSL TVââ?¬â??Studio 5

THE FAMILY COMMUNITY

It’s rather easy to get caught up in the many groups of demands that are “out there” and forget about the most integral group in our lives. There are many things pulling on us and yearning for our attention, we definitely need to know our priorities. We have to first say “Yes” over here, so we can say “No” over there when too many areas of life are commanding our attention. We want to be driven by purpose not agendas. There is no other single word that means more to the human race than “family.”

FIRST SAY “YES”

For example, I’m saying YES to spending more time with my childrenââ?¬Â¦..which means I’ll say NO to the offer of a promotion that will have me traveling 50% of the time.

When a child feels that they are valued, the “No’s” become easier for them as well. When they know who they are through their identification of the family community, they find it easier to turn down negative distractions, like drugs, cutting school, pre-marital sex, etc.

At the same time, it seems that our family groups are sometimes the hardest ones to be a part of. Sometimes we struggle with our family systems: there was a book that came out many years ago now entitled, “Family Ties: Those that Bind and Gag.” Our family experiences bless, challenge, embrace, and exclude us, all because we’re human and we don’t know how to be perfect parents or perfect kids or perfect in-laws. Please know this is normal! And, just like volunteering in our communities, there is no monetary paycheck. Sometimes there are many emotional deposits and efforts made with seemingly little or no return on the investment. Make them anywayââ?¬Â¦one day you’ll see a return on your investment.

Families are “systems.” That creates an interesting picture when you think of interlocking parts and pieces. What happens to you, doesn’t just affect youââ?¬Â¦. it affects everyone else. The idea that “we’re all in this together” feels so comforting – to know that because of my built-in support system, I will not be all alone. Whether it’s cancer, substance abuse, chronic illness, life’s disappointments and failures, no family member can avoid being touched by it. A family community gives a sense of belonging and protection.

May I also suggest that a family system is one that identifies themselves as a community with certain values and behaviors. For example, you may endorse something like the following: “In the Hale family, we don’t believe in cheating on tests. Or, “in our family we don’t make fun of people who are obese or of a different race or religion.” Identify who you are as a community of people.


“WE ARE THE ________’S!”

What do you stand for and valueââ?¬Â¦and then be certain that you’re consistent with who you say you are. Children learn what they live. It’s never too late to teach them more effectively. Kids are hungry: It’s as if they’re saying, “tell me who I am and then show me!”

A few weeks ago, we discussed serving in the community and I mentioned that there is no substitute for showing up in person to connect with another human beingââ?¬Â¦that money alone doesn’t cut it and offers none of the benefits when it comes to the “helper’s high.” This also applies to the family community, as well. Showing up is so important but sometimes we’ll send in a check instead of talking the time and effort to be there in person! We see this same behavior in our family communities: too many parents have bought into their children’s sense of entitlement. Somewhere along the lines they grew to believe that by sparing a child hard times or challenges, they were better parents. The best advice? Give your children too much love and not enough money. If you’ve spoiled your child, they you can learn to un-spoil them and you must.

UNPLUG THE LUXURY

Research is very clear: children who are overindulged are typically unhappy. They’re unhappy because they appreciate nothing. If you cheat your child out of the lean times and the down times, you do them a tremendous disservice. Let them experience the contrast.

If you have lost control as a parent, do something drastic to earn back the power. Shake things up a bit in your family systemââ?¬Â¦..If everyone seems to be fighting over the t.v. or Game-boy, you as parents determine that it’s time to do away with it for awhile. When the kids come unglued, simply say, “We decided that until we can get our family back on track, we won’t be using that for the time being.” No arguing, no defendingââ?¬Â¦calm and cool!

We always hear that communication is the most important element in any relationships. That’s such broad adviceââ?¬Â¦here are a few quick-tips for improving communication within your family:

We often hear how corporate meetings our important to the development of an effective companyââ?¬Â¦.families are no different. What’s your family’s mission statement?

FAMILY HUDDLES

Huddle together and hold a regularly-scheduled family meeting where you protect that time as sacred: no other commitments, no telephone or television. Everyone has a voice; remember that while children can always have a say they will not always have their way. But, in the family community they are learning how to negotiate – a trait that will serve them well all of their lives. Choose one subject matter per meeting. Ask each family member to share their concerns and possible solutions. After everyone has contributed, work together to find a solution that works for everyoneââ?¬Â¦.keep in the mind the element of win-win.

Bottomline: Happy families are our greatest national resource. It is in them that we find our meaning, strength, and future. Commit to doing one thing differently todayââ?¬Â¦.even if it’s as simple as giving an enthusiastic “Hi” as your moody teen walks through the door after school. Don’t underestimate the little things in shaping family communities.

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Dr. Liz Hale

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