If we want to raise world-changers, the best place to start is in our very own homes. And for our teaching efforts to be fruitful, we have to first lay a foundation of love. Here are seven powerful ways to build a loving family.
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I’ve heard it said “As goes the family, so go our communities, so go our states, so goes our nation, so goes our world.” [variations of this quote are attributed to many different people]
And it’s not an exaggeration. The health of our homes impacts every area of our lives, and its effects reach far beyond its walls.
If we want to be world-changers — and if we want to raise world-changers — the best place to start is in our very own homes. There may be a lot in the world we cannot change or even impact, but we have enormous influence within our families.
One family at a time, we could shape the next generation.
There are so many things I could talk about that we can/should teach our kids and values we can/should nurture in our families. But if we want our teaching efforts to be fruitful, we first have to build a foundation of love.
How do we do that?
I’m no expert, but in my 10 ½ years of marriage, almost 7 years of being a mother, and decades of reading great books, I’ve picked up a few ideas. Here are seven ways to build a loving family:
7 Ways to Build a Loving Family
Spend Time Together
There is no way to build a loving family without spending quality (and quantity!) time together. There are no shortcuts or substitutes. This is absolutely essential.
I know, we’re all busy. We have a million responsibilities and to-do lists a mile long. And in the midst of all those demands, time with our kids can start to feel like an interruption. I get it!
But it’s not. It’s an investment. An investment in their future, an investment in our relationships, and an investment in raising them to be the men and women God called them to be.
That’s not to say we always have to drop everything to cater to our kids’ every whim and desire. But we do need to carve out time for them — time getting to know them, enjoying them, teaching them, and encouraging them.
And if I can be this bold (please don’t hate me) — if you’re too busy to spend time together… you’re just plain too busy. Don’t let the rat race/ladder climb/success chase that’s pushed down our throats keep you from what has more lasting value.
You may (or may not!) end up less financially “successful”, but you will not regret the sacrifice when you see the loving family you’ve built.
Communicate (And Listen!)
Communication is key to any healthy relationship. Sharing our hearts, thoughts, and feelings builds connection and fosters intimacy, which is vital to any loving relationship.
And remember — communication doesn’t only involve talking! We all long to be heard and listened to, so make sure your ears are as open as your mouth.
(P.S. If you have some big talkers in your family, I get it! I do, too. And it can be hard to listen sometimes when they want to talk all. the. time. But here’s an article I wrote three years ago for Her View From Home about why it’s so important to lean in and listen. )
Speak With Love
Isn’t it a sad-but-true reality that the people under our roofs often get the worst of our words? The brunt of our anger, the fall-out of our stress, the venting of our frustrations? It’s so easy to take advantage of the familiarity and unconditional love of our families and confuse it with permission to say whatever we want.
But if we want healthy, loving families, we have to mind our mouths and be intentional with our tongues. We have to replace the harsh words, cutting remarks, and constant criticism with words of life, praise, affirmation, and edification.
Related Post: 12 Scriptural Truths to Speak Life Over Your Children
Cultivate an Encouraging Environment
On a related note, we can build loving families by cultivating an encouraging environment. Affirm one another, cheer each other on, acknowledge and celebrate your strengths, and motivate each other to greatness. Do everything you can to make your home a place in which each family member feels encouraged and empowered to run his/her race.
Cherish Each Other
To cherish means to treat as special or hold in high regard. Does that describe the way we think about, talk about, and act toward our family members? It should be if we want to build a loving family.
We can’t harp on or belittle our spouse or talk about our children as annoyances or burdens if we want to nurture loving relationships. Rather, we should protect and preserve their dignity, speak to them with love and tenderness, speak about them with honor and respect, and devote ourselves to their welfare.
We should value them as a prized treasure. Because they are.
Learn Each Other’s Love Languages
Love can be expressed in a variety of ways. According to Gary Chapman, those ways are words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, physical touch, and gifts. And each person has a dominant “language” with which he/she primarily “speaks” and “hears” love.
It follows, then, that in order to love our families well, we may need to learn to speak languages other than our native tongue. We may need to do a little observing, studying, and researching to find the best ways to express our love to each family member.
It requires a little time and energy and getting outside of our comfort zone, but the rewards of deposits in our family’s love account will be worth the investment.
Even in the healthiest families, there will inevitably be conflict at some point. Anger, hurt, and offense are natural parts of the human experience, and they’re certainly part of being a family. Even the most loving family isn’t free of them.
But it does learn healthy ways of dealing with them.
That includes expressing anger in constructive rather than destructive ways, seeking to understand the other person’s perspective, identifying our contribution to the conflict, and actively working towards resolution.
It also involves resisting the urge to stuff or avoid potential conflicts. (Full disclosure: I’m terrible at this one.) We may do it in the belief that we’re protecting our relationships, but in reality, we’re depriving them of an opportunity for growth. Working through conflict builds strength, resiliency, and intimacy. Stuffing them turns them into ticking time bombs.
How do we teach these strategies to our kids?
As you read the above seven ways to build a loving family, you probably recognized actions you can take and areas you can improve. But how can we teach them to our kids? How can we nurture those values in them?
Here are a few ways:
- Model it for them. This is the very best way to teach anything to our kids, and it’s vital for instilling any kind of heart values. If we want to see the above traits and behaviors in our kids, we have to set the example.
- Teach several different ways. Kids learn best when instruction comes in several different forms. Show them how to speak with love, encourage each other, resolve conflict, etc. by talking to them, reading about it, demonstrating it, giving examples, etc.
- Be patient. This is not fruit we’re going to see overnight, so we need to be patient while it grows. If we’re planting the seeds, we can eagerly expect to see it develop, from tiny little sprout to flourishing bloom.
- Pray, pray, pray. We can do everything we can to nurture our children’s hearts, but we cannot control them. The only One who can change hearts is God, so one of the best things we can do to build loving families is invite Him into the construction. (See my post 8 Scripture-Based Prayers for Your Child’s Heart for ideas!)
SHARE WITH US: Those of you who have raised your families (or are farther in the journey than I am), share your wisdom! Tell us what you did/have done to build loving family relationships.
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