6 Tips for Practical Acceptance
We all long for acceptance. We want to be an integral part of a group, especially our family. Feeling accepted creates a sense of safety and security. Knowing others accept us gives us a sense of personal value. It helps us realize that “I am loved no matter what.” If we do not feel accepted, we do not feel valued. Instead, we feel abandoned and rejected. We become driven to find acceptance; we may fight for acceptance…or just give up and believe ourselves unacceptable. Many teens who struggle with drugs, a lack of motivation, self-injurious behaviors, or unhealthy relationships are longing for acceptance but looking
for it in “all the wrong places.” When I ask them to explain what compels them to engage in these negative behaviors, they often describe the acceptance they find among others who engage in similar behaviors or a sense that “nobody cares so why should I.”
Let me state the obvious: Acceptance begins in the family! Children need acceptance from their parents and one another. Wives need acceptance from their husbands. Husbands need acceptance from their wives. And, when you get right down to it, parents desire to have the acceptance of their children, especially as their children move toward adulthood. Acceptance begins in the home. How can we practice acceptance in the family?
- Be tolerant of differences among your family. A family blossoms into full beauty when they not only tolerate individual differences but cherish those differences. Take time to learn about your children’s interests. Find a way to enjoy your spouse’s hobby. Learn to appreciate your parents’ talents. Encourage the unique characteristics of each family member and even help provide opportunities for them in those areas.
- Rather than nag your spouse or children to change, consider the possibility of humbly changing yourself. Accept that your spouse or children might have a different opinion than you, an opinion that is still valid. Quit nagging, change your perspective, and, when necessary, change your actions. Of course there are some things that you cannot accept. I’m not talking about those things. But, take an honest look and make sure the issue really is worth the nagging. If not (and it probably is not), practice acceptance. Replacing nagging with acceptance is an act of grace and an expression of love.
- Be aware of developmental abilities. I know this sounds basic, but many people forget to practice acceptance in this area. We yell at our four-year-old for being “immature.” We complain about our six-year-old son constantly fidgeting. We demand our eight-year-old remember to “play her position” on the soccer field. But, in each instance, the child is just not developmentally ready to meet that demand; and, complaining about it only sends a message that they “are not good enough.” Rather than demand more “mature” behavior, accept family member’s at the developmental level they have achieved. Let kids be kids.
- Be aware and accepting of personality differences. Maybe your meek husband does not push to get ahead or your gregarious wife loves to talk. Accept those unique personality traits. Remember how that unique personality initially attracted you to your spouse.
- Quit comparing. Comparing communicates “you’re not quite good enough.” Instead of comparing, recognize and talk about the strengths your spouse and children possess. Talk about the aspects you admire and appreciate in your spouse and children.
- Express your love, admiration, and encouragement as energetically as you express disappointment in unwise decisions, anger at disobedience, or fear of failure.
When you practice these six practical ways to communicate acceptance in your family, you make your family feel valued, significant, and confident. More importantly, you express a deep love for your family. So why wait? Start practicing today!