Archive for January 26, 2013
2. A healthy family rhythm includes time for play. Families that play together find one another’s rhythm. They learn to read one another’s cues and respond to those cues. Whether they be cues of joy or discomfort, play teaches us to recognize them and respond to them in a helpful way.
3. A healthy family rhythm includes time for work. Everyone in a family can contribute to the family rhythm and stability. That means everyone has a job to fulfill. When everyone does their part, families find a healthy rhythm. Perhaps the younger children will simply dust or pick up toys, but they can participate in the “work of the home.” This makes everyone a part of the home. Everyone learns that they have a contribution to make. Everyone leans to appreciate the contribution of others.
4. A healthy family rhythm also includes time for rest. One of my favorite ways to ‘get in tune’ with my family is to rest together. Some families may rest by taking a nap at the same time. Others find that the best way to rest is taking a walk, listening to music, talking over a cup of coffee, or enjoying a time of recreation together. Whatever helps your family enjoy times of rest will instill a positive rhythm into your family and build opportunities for intimacy.
5. A healthy family rhythm includes time to eat together. I know our lives are very busy, but if we fit 3-5 family meals in a week we add can beautiful harmony to our family rhythm. Having family meals allows us to talk, learn about one another’s day, discuss future dreams, encourage growth, comfort sorrows, and laugh together. All of this will enhance your family rhythm.
All of this (and I didn’t even mention how play allows a child to grow in creativity, language, negotiation, and self-control) will help your children respond to stress in a positive way. Oh yeah, and it is fun! Play may not be the only way to help buffer a child against stress, but it is one way I don’t want to miss out on. How about you? Aye, wait a minute…why are you still sitting there? Go on; get out there with your children and play!
One evening while in college, a friend, his girlfriend, and I were invited to enjoy dinner at the home of my friend’s grandmother. While she fixed dinner, someone knocked on the door. We opened the door to discover a traveling salesman advertising his wares…vacuums in this case. My friend’s grandmother invited him in and allowed him to demonstrate the amazing feats of his vacuum. We all listened while he told us about power, cleanliness, and pricing. She did not buy a vacuum that day. However, while he finished his spiel, my friend’s grandmother set the table, carefully arranging the dishes and chairs to allow for one extra place at the table. As he packed up to leave, she invited him to stay for dinner…and he stayed! That vacuum salesman did not sell a vacuum in that house, but he did enjoy a wonderful dinner before he left. I often remember that incident…a stranger invited in for a dinner, no charge, no expectation, just the hospitality of a good meal and conversation. That day, I learned a lesson on hospitality…I watched as a legacy of hospitality took shape right before my eyes!
Throughout my life, various people have shown great hospitality to me. They have allowed me to sleep in their homes and eat their food. Hospitable people have allowed me to watch TV with them and even let my clumsy hands help them with various projects. One hospitable person even met me at the border of Mexico, escorted me on a bus into Mexico, allowed me to stay at his home, fed me his food, and walked for over half a day to bring back fresh water for me to drink. That is hospitality!
Hospitality is a wonderful legacy to leave our families, a legacy our children can witness as they grow up and emulate when they start their own home. We can build a legacy of hospitality in a couple of ways. First, practice hospitality in your own home…model it. Invite others to share meals with you. Invite guests to visit in your home. This will mean making your home environment welcoming. I used to visit homes for work. Many homes I visited were very hospitable. Some, however, were not hospitable. In some homes I felt like I was not allowed to converse because the TV took priority…or the home was so filled with clutter that I had no place to sit and no one seemed to care that I could not sit. These homes were not conducive to hospitality. They were not welcoming. To practice hospitality, create a home environment that is welcoming to others. Make sure your teens know that there are chips, apples, and oranges for their friends to snack on when they come to visit. Have a place to sit where everyone can see one another and freely talk to one another. Be sure to keep a supply of games for all to enjoy.
Second, quit worrying about whether your home is spotless. Of course, we want it clean enough that no one is uncomfortable, but don’t worry about perfection. Instead of spending your time worrying about every crumb, every ring left by a glass on the coffee table, and every piece of dust, spend your time connecting with the people who come to your home. Instead of rushing around making sure that the food is perfectly prepared and a visual delight, invest your time in talking with your guests. Be a “Mary” rather than a “Martha.” Get to know your guests. Let them experience your acceptance. Connect with them.
A legacy of hospitality will provide you and your family hours of enjoyment and an abundance of positive memories. It will instill a sense of hospitality in your children that they can take with them anywhere they go. You may find them showing polite hospitality in a store by talking with a stressed mother and even allowing her to go through the check-out line first; or, friendly hospitality to the check-out clerk who is having a bad day. A little hospitality in the home will have ripple effects in your family and community.
I like what Lauren Winner says in her book Mudhouse Sabbath. She reminds us that the practice of hospitality is actually modeled after God’s example. God created the world and then invited us in. Although we have made our messes in His creation, He still invites us in. When God became a man and walked the earth as Jesus, He ate with us and entered into our lives. Today, God still invites us into His life. Even more, He invites us into His family! Now that is a legacy of hospitality!
2. Not only do we have to become a student of our spouse, we have to take the initiative to act on the knowledge we gain. We have to make practical use of that information. Having a “head knowledge” of what pleases our spouse does no good unless we put it to practical use…unless we act on it. Generosity involves the actual act of “giving” some gift “freely and abundantly.” In the end, “actions speak louder than words” when it comes to generosity.
3. When our spouse receives a “good thing” from us, they feel greater self-worth. They know that we considered them valuable enough to learn about them. They also know that we find them valuable enough to invest the time and energy necessary to act on that information as well. In addition, their love toward us (the generous spouse) increases.
4. When our spouse receives a “good thing” from us, it boosts their gratitude and appreciation as well. They become more thankful.
· If you are a helicopter parent, you may find yourself “stepping in” to save your children from any struggle or potential disappointment. Helicopter parents, not wanting their children to make any mistakes or get a single problem wrong, step in to cajole, explain, and even make corrections saving their children from “suffering” the disappointment of a less than perfect homework assignment. If their children forget an assignment, the helicopter parent dutifully rushes it to the school. If their children begin to experience discomfort with some task, the helicopter parent swoops in to ease the pain and complete the task. No failure allowed…they reason, “It might hinder my children’s self-esteem.”
· If you are a helicopter parent, you may want to be your child’s BFF (Best Friend Forever). Unfortunately, helicopter parents as BFF’s are governed and constrained by fear. They fear that a child’s anger will mean the friendship is broken…so they give in or argue. They try to convince their child to engage in certain behaviors, but fear to push too much and “threaten” the BFF relationship. To compensate, helicopter parents may praise their child incessantly, raving about any success, large or small. Parental BFF’s find themselves subservient to their children’s emotions.
Are you a helicopter parent? If you are, I’m sure you are acting out of love for your child. Take a moment to consider the truth that setting the helicopter down and parenting from a different perspective actually reveals your love in a deeper and more enduring manner. I invite you to steer over to the landing pad and park the helicopter. Pick up a few shepherding tools and begin to lead your child with the parental authority that will guide them into healthy adulthood.
So, step aside. A true hero knows when to help and when to watch. Let your child figure it out. Let them struggle through the task. Even allow them to fail and, through that failure, learn how to get up, dust off, and “get back on the horse.” Let them learn that they have competence. Even more, let them learn that they are competent.