The things that go on behind our front door, when no one is looking really counts. That is where we learn to love and be loved, no matter the circumstances we face. Many many families are crumbling, spouses leaving, children behaving badly, sexual and emotional abuse everywhere. It’s like we are facing this crisis in Africa that seems to be winning. But this crumbling, disintegrating state of family, is always attributed to the individuals in it. All of us make choices; all of us want happiness, peace and joy. Yet we all make those choices based on selfish and proud criteria. Resentment, hostility and anger, are rooted in the pursuit of self. ‘My way, or the highway.’ In many families we see men and women becoming historically negative in their discussions and arguments. We say things like – “you never did this”, “why are you always so rude even last year you spoke rudely to my mother”, or “back when we first got married you treated me with respect!” We talked last time about providing a purpose for our families, yet this is not enough, we must give the guidelines for how our families can pursue that purpose together. We talked about family values, and the need to rethink how we will treat the individuals in our family. We need to be proactive in loving, nurturing and providing an open and trustworthy environment for our family relationships to grow.
Some suggestions for these values include “everyone helps with washing and cooking; we eat one meal a day together with no cell phones; father and mother have one evening together to talk a week; we always say sorry; we believe the best; we do not shout…” Many people think that changing behaviours in their family is impossible. An example might be: that your wife has always been like this, her mother was like that, even your daughter is following suit – and we despair of change. But small changes, consistently maintained have a massive impact. The GB (Great Britain) Cycling team won every gold medal in the Summer Olympics of 2013 in London. When interviewed the coach said that he made the team change small things. His examples included: 1) all members of the team had to bring their own bedding to every hotel/lodge that they stayed in for training and the olympics, and had to make their own beds with this bedding. Because if we have our own pillow we sleep better. 2) during training, every member of the team had to wash their hands with soap every hour, because it prevented them getting sick, and ensured they stayed healthy. And finally 3) he changed all the handle bars on their bikes to heavier bars for their training sessions, and only put the aerodynamic light handle bars on a few weeks before the Olympics. This meant they learnt to train and race in a harder environment, and were much faster when the bars were changed. Their reward? The only team to win every gold medal!
It is not the large changes in our families that are always necessary. Sometimes it is small things, for example insisting that we eat one meal a day together, and everyone has to share the best and worst of their day. Or it can be that we will always say please and thank you to each other. Or the one thing could be that no one makes a drink or gets something to eat without going round the house and offering everyone else also. It is important that whenever a family member does this “non-negotiable” new behavior that they are rewarded with kindness and thanks back.
No matter what your “small” change is, you must be consistent, adhere to it yourself, and make sure everyone who follows it is rewarded with thanks, kindness and a sense of love. Within 7 or 8 weeks, these small things become habits, and it’s our habits that determine the future of our family.
- We are who we are, truly ourselves, with those that see us every day before dawn and after dark.
- There is no hiding from our family, they see us as we truly are, yet have the potential to empower and release us to be who we really could be.
- Family is work, it’s a choice and it is foundational for success in every area of life.
- It is not necessarily big things that must change, sometimes small changes, consistently enforced and rewarded, fundamentally change the whole family.