As l glanced at my schedule for the coming weekend, I was taken aback at how busy it is! Two weddings, well-researched articles to be submitted for publication, meeting with a client to close a deal and one public speaking engagement dominate the landscape along with a list of household chores. Household chores? Yes, I do that to support my wife! And errand longer than anyone would face. All these are supposed to be my day off!
The Bible says that children are an inheritance from God and blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. Not only have I found that to be true, but I have also discovered that the fuller my quiver gets (I’ve got three arrows); the harder it is to find the time to give each child the attention they need and deserve.
Can you relate to this? What does it take to create a happy family, when modern life’s challenges threaten to overwhelm us?
Here are ten secrets of happy families that you can easily put to use in spite of hectic schedule in your own home to create a joyful and connected family, where everyone flourishes and even the children treasure family time:
1. Pray Together
Prayer is important for families. You cannot do anything without prayers. Whether at meal times, before you go to bed or when you wake up, it is important.
How would you describe your home? It is probably not with words like isolation, selfishness, or anger.
Praying as a family helps you to develop a sense of unity. When family members pray regularly together, they start to think more about each other – and of the people around them.
Prayer can demonstrate character, integrity, and personal faith and reflects your family values.
If family prayer is not a practice in your household, why not be the one to lead it? Be the role model for your kids and perhaps even your spouse, to pint them in the direction of God. No amount of time you spend in God’s presence is ever wasted. If you start making these small sacrifices now, your family will be grateful for it
2. Be Available
It is not enough that we tell our children we love them. We need to put our love into action every day for them to feel it. Being close to another human takes work. However, 90% of people on their deathbed say that their biggest regret is that they did not get closer to the people in their lives. And almost all parents whose children are grown say they wish they had spent more time with their kids.
In relationships, without quantity, there is no quality. You cannot expect a good relationship with your daughter or son if you spend all your time at work and he/she spends her/his time with her/his friends. So, as hard as it is with the pressures of the job and daily life, if we want a better relationship with our children, we have to free up the time to make that happen.
Studies show that if a father is affectionate, supportive, and involved, he can contribute greatly to a child’s cognitive, language, and social development, as well as academic achievement, a strong inner core resource, sense of well-being, good self-esteem and authenticity.
4. Help Your Child Develop Gratitude
Many people think they cannot be grateful until they are happy, meaning until they have something to be grateful for. But look closely and you will find that it is the opposite: people are happy because they are grateful. People who describe themselves as consciously cultivating gratefulness are rated as happier by those who know them, as well as by themselves.
Children do not have a context for life, so they do not know whether they are lucky or unlucky, only that their friend Michael has more expensive sneakers. But there are many ways to help children learn to cultivate gratitude, which is the opposite of taking everything for granted. Take a moment at dinner time to share what you are thankful for. Go around the table, allowing each family member a chance to vocalize their gratitude. Help your children find something positive in frustrating situations and discuss them. Also, coach your children to reword their complaint into something that they appreciate instead.
5. Support Your Child To Prioritize Relationships
Research shows that people who are happiest have more people in their lives and deeper relationships with those people. Teach your child that while relationships take work, they are worth it.
8. Allow For Success and Failure
If you really want to bolster your child’s self-esteem, focus less on compliments and more on providing him with ample opportunities to learn new skills. Mastery, not praise, is the real self-esteem builder.
Fortunately, when it comes to the under-4 crowd, nearly everything they do is a chance to attain mastery because it is all new to them: learning to crawl, walk, feed and dress, use the potty, and ride a tricycle. Our challenge is to stand back and let our children do for themselves what they are capable of. The great mistake good parents make is doing too much for their children. While it can be difficult to watch our kids struggle, they will never know the thrill of mastery unless we allow them to risk failure. Few skills are perfected on a first try. It is through practice that children achieve mastery. And through repeated experiences of mastery, they develop the can-do attitude that lets them approach future challenges with the zest and optimism that are central to a happy life.
9. Help Them Learn How To Manage Moods
Most people don’t know that they can choose to let bad moods go and consciously change their moods. But practice in doing this can really make us happier. Of course, we aren’t talking about denial. The first step is always to acknowledge the upset feelings, and let ourselves feel them.
So with your child, simply empathizing with her upset feelings will help them start to evaporate. But there are times when we just stay in a bad mood, rather than nurturing ourselves through the upset or choosing to change it. That is just a habit that our brain has gotten into.
If you can practice monitoring your own moods and shifting them, through acknowledging the feelings, allowing yourself to feel the emotions, correcting any negative thoughts that are giving rise to the emotions, and nurturing yourself, you will be re-wiring your brain. And as you practice this and get better at it, you can teach these skills to your child.
10. Help Your Child Find Joy In Everything
Studies show that people who notice the small miracles of daily life and allow themselves to be touched by them, are happier. Daily life overflows with joyful occurrences: The show of the setting sun, no less astonishing for its daily repetition. The warmth of connection with the man at the newsstand who recognizes you and your child. The joy of finding a new book by a favorite author at the library.
As Albert Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
Think of your family today and every day thereafter, do not let the busy world of today keep you from showing how much you love and appreciate your family.
Spend some time this weekend on home improvement; improve your attitude toward your family. If you are too busy to enjoy time with your family, then you need to reevaluate your priorities.
Our children learn by our example what is important in life. Let us, pray, and trust in God for a better home front which lead to a better country.
NO FAMILY, NO COUNTRY; SOUND FAMILY, SOUND COUNTRY!