Tag Archive for security

How Your Family Can Change the World

As the year comes to an end, I find myself reflecting on the importance of family in the world today.  So many of the issues we struggle with as a nation could be lessened, if not eliminated, by healthy families, families based on the values of honor, grace, & celebration.  Families that practice and teach these values become the cornerstone of healthy communities. They improve their communities and the overall world by living out the values of honor, grace, and celebration learned in the microcosmic community of their family. Consider just a few lessons learned in a family of honor, grace, and celebration that will then be extended to the community and world around them.

  • Honor causes us to humbly see one another as diamonds rather than coal, someone to be cherished and admired rather than used for my comforts and my ends.
  • Honor teaches us to communicate love and respect to one another—young and old, male and female. It teaches us to respect one another in our uniqueness.
  • Honor compels us to esteem one another in spite of differences we might have. It teaches us to respect even when we disagree.
  • Grace enables us offer one another unconditional acceptance.
  • Grace teaches us to live sensible and righteous lives—lives that serve rather than abuse, lives that sacrifice for others rather than take from others.
  • Grace empowers us to practice extravagant generosity in our availability, attention, and meeting of one another’s needs.
  • Grace leads us to forgive those who offend us and to seek reconciliation when possible, releasing us from the burden of vengeance.
  • Grace frees us from the crushing weight of anger and bitterness as we seek It frees us from the shackles of guilt as we receive forgiveness.
  • Honor and grace combine to create a sense of security, a sanctuary of acceptance.
  • Honor and grace build a safe haven in which disagreements can be discussed, options explored, and solutions discovered.
  • Honor and grace drive us to connect with one another on a deep emotional level.
  • Honor and grace liberate us from the entanglements of narcissism and self-centeredness.
  • Honor and grace make celebration possible. In honor, we celebrate our diversity. In grace, we even celebrate with those who disagree with us.
  • Celebration allows us to play and laugh together, revealing ourselves more full and without pretense.
  • Celebration refreshes our perspective of others, allowing us to see one another with fresh eyes of understanding and joy.
  • Celebration enhances intimacy, allowing us to know one another more deeply.
  • Celebration restores our trust in humanity as we celebrate those successes and achievements that value all we honor.

Healthy families not only practice honor, grace, and celebration they teach these values to future generations. In so doing, they build people of honor, grace, and celebration who then build communities of honor, grace, and celebration. People who live in families of honor, grace, and celebration go into the world and create positive change (Read Hot Sauces Vs. the Power of Relationship for an example of this positive impact). In this coming year, recommit to making your family a celebrating community of honor and grace. You need it. Your family needs it. Our world needs it!

An Environmental Concern Hits Close to Home

We hear a lot about the environment these days. Just do a google search on “environmental concerns” and around 12,900,000 links come up in a mere .87 seconds. We worry about the polar bears’ habitat, the impact of wasting water and not recycling, and the consequences of global climate change on nature’s backdrop. These are all worthy causes and concerns that deserve our attention. But, in our zeal to address the natural environment, we often neglect an environment just as important and even closer to home, an environment very dear to my heart. If you are a parent or grandparent, it’s probably dear to your heart as well. I’m talking about the home environment in which our children live and grow. This environment will have a long reaching impact on our children and everything they do.  In other words, it will have a long-term impact on our social, political, and environmental world as our children grow up. As a result, the environment in which our children learn and grow needs our full attention.  Even better, we create this environment by our efforts and through our interactions. Let me share three things we can do to create the best environment for our children’s growth and maturity.

  1. Children need a safe environment in which to learn and grow. To keep an environment safe for our children means to keep it clear of anything which poses a significant threat to them at their particular developmental level. This may involve putting up safety gates and installing “baby-proofing” locks on cupboards to keep our toddlers safe. As our children become “middle schoolers,” establishing a safe environment may involve charging cell phones overnight in the kitchen rather than the bedroom. A safe environment also includes plenty of healthy food and sufficient rest. You get the idea. Think ahead and create a safe environment for your children. Creating a safe environment for children also relieves parents of stress. With less stress over their children’s safety, parents can relax and observe their children. They can learn more about their children and grow closer to them each day.
  2. Children need an environment that is cognitively challenging. This will include age appropriate toys and play objects with which children can interact and problem-solve. Things as simple as building blocks, dress up clothes, and balls provide appropriate stimulation. Even objects in nature like trees to climb, bugs to watch, hills to roll down, and water to play in provide opportunities to problem-solve, negotiate, and create. TV’s and video games, on the other hand, rob our children of the opportunities to problem-solve and create. So, the best environment for our children will limit screen-time and provide plenty of “passive toys” (Read Two Observations on Parenting for more.)
  3. Children need an emotionally nurturing environment in which to learn and grow. A key ingredient of an emotionally nurturing environment is an attentive parent. The attentive parent possesses keen observation skills. They use this skill to learn of their children’s strengths and weaknesses, to identify their children’s abilities and areas of growth. Their keen eye will identify ways to modify the environment to encourage positive behavior and stimulate growth, provide success and introduce challenges. The emotionally nurturing parent rejoices when their child rejoices and feels sorrow when their child feels sorrow. Yet, because the parents are not overwhelmed by their children’s emotions, they can help their child temper and manage those feelings in a positive way. Read The Wings on Which Your Children Soar to learn more about providing emotional nurturance for your children.

The environment our children encounter in the world can be harsh and cruel. Create a home environment filled with honor, grace, and celebration…an environment of love. Believe me—it will have a global impact. If you want proof of the potential global impact, check out this fascinating study involving hot sauce and attachment: Hot Sauce Vs. the Power of Relationship.

Add Meaning to Life by Building Routine?

Meaning and routine…those are two words we don’t often think of together. Instead, we think of routine as dull, the “same old thing,” and “stuck in a rut.”  Who finds meaning in that? Research, on the other hand, suggests that we gain a greater sense of meaning in our lives when we practice routines. Yes, routines…like starting the day with a simple prayer or daily exercise, walking the same route to work each day or reading a chapter before bed, Friday night pizza or a cup of coffee each morning…routines! Rather than making life dull and predictable, research tells us that such routines actually make life more meaningful! (Read Everyday Routines Make Life Feel More Meaningful and A New Psychological Insight Makes Me Feel Much Less Boring for more). “How can that be?” you ask.

  • Daily routines help us develop a sense of coherence, a sense of self that remains the same over time and place. Routines help us define “who I am” and “what I do.” We become a person who enjoys coffee or a person who enjoys taking a walk. We come to know ourselves as a person who enjoys quiet times of prayer. Whatever routine we develop becomes part of our identity, our sense of self that remains the same across time and place. Of course, this means we need to use caution in developing our routines. We will do best to develop routines that contribute to a positive sense of self. After all, who wants to be the person known as a grumbler because they start every day with complaint? A positive daily routine, on the other hand, can help us develop a stable and positive identity.
  • Daily routines also build a sense of predictability into life. Having a sense of predictability, having an idea of “what comes next,” provides a sense of safety, especially for children. This sense of safety provides an anchor that frees us to take healthy risks in other areas of our lives…which leads to the next point.
  • Daily routines free us to pursue significant goals in our lives. Over time, the routines become a natural part of our day. We don’t have to waste mental energy remembering to do them or even how to do them. Instead, we can focus our energies on goals we consider significant and important to living out our values.
  • Of course, having the energy and thought to pursue more significant goals also gives our life a greater sense of purpose. We can thank daily routines for making this possible.
  • Daily routines for families also provide regular times to develop family relationships, which translates into greater family identity and family intimacy.

In other words, routines have a ripple effect. Positive routines help build a positive identity and a sense of predictability which allows us to pursue significant goals and build a greater sense of purpose. Family routines help build family identity and family intimacy. So, if you really want to help your family and your children build a greater sense of meaning in life, build family routines! Here are a few your children and your family might enjoy.

  • A daily family meal.
  • Bedtime prayers.
  • Taking time each night to read with your children.
  • The “good-bye kiss.”
  • The “I’m home kiss.”
  • Fishing on the weekend.
  • Friday pizza night.
  • Worship weekly.

You get the idea. The kinds of healthy routines you can develop are limited only by your imagination. Whatever you choose, get on out there and establish some family routines. Your family will benefit from gaining a sense of identity and personal meaning. Your children will benefit from a greater sense of identity and personal meaning. You will benefit from enjoying it all!

Beatitudes for a Happy Marriage

  • Happy the couple who humbly serves one another; that couple shall inherit a joyous intimacy.

newly married couple chasing each other in field

  • Happy the couple who is attentive, observant, and studious of one another; they shall know their spouse deeply.
  • Happy the couple who is intentionally responsive to one another; they will know a secure connection and deep friendship with one another.
  • Happy the couple who resolves conflicts quickly for they shall nurture peace in their marriage.
  • Happy the couple who supports one another’s dreams; they shall inherit a lifetime of joy.
  • Happy the couple who cherishes one another; in nurturing their commitment they will reap a secure environment of trust.
  • Happy the couple in which both spouses remain present and available. This couple will experience security and peace within their marriage.
  • Happy the couple who shows kindness within the relationship; they shall know the pleasure of gratitude.
  • Happy the couple who honors one another; they shall live in the safe haven of their marriage.
  • Happy the couple who puts their love into action and words, they shall know the deep satisfaction of a life-long, intimate marriage.

Why Family Honor?

Honor is an important ingredient in a healthy family. Many of the blogs I’ve written deal with honor in one form or another…and rightfully so. Honor simplifies life. It establishes a family environment that benefits every member of the family.  Consider just these four ways that honor benefits a family.

  • Father and daughter in Christmas crownsHonor simplifies life by allowing us to relax in our trust of one another’s faithfulness. We honor our family members by living an honorable life. An honorable person keeps their word. They are faithful and trustworthy. Living within a family we can trust allows us to relax. We know promises will be kept and relationships maintained.
  • Honor simplifies life by allowing us to rest in the security of our relationships. Families filled with honor value one another. They place each other’s needs above their own. They remain committed to family and invested in providing the best for other family members.  As a result, relationships grow stronger. Intimacy grows. Each person rests secure in relationship, even during times of disagreement.
  • Honor simplifies life by allowing us to walk in the freedom and openness of the truth. We honor one another by living a truthful life. An honorable life is an honest life. When a family practices honesty, the whole family lives in the freedom of the truth. Conflict is recognized, addressed, and resolved more quickly and compassionately. There are no hidden agendas, resentments, or secrets to fear. Living in the truth allows family members to trust one another. Each person knows the freedom of being truly known (not hiding any part of themselves) and still fully accepted.
  • Honor simplifies life by allowing us to celebrate the joy of lifting one another up with our words. We honor one another with encouraging words. A family filled with honor uses words to encourage, build up, and strengthen one another.

The Family That Laughs Together…

My family loves to laugh. Just last Friday we were walking back to the car after eating dinner at a local fish fry when my daughter said something that struck her older sister’s happy brother and sister laughing isolated on the whitefunny bone. She started laughing. She laughed so hard we had to stop walking to allow her to wipe tears of laughter from her face. Several weeks ago we were enjoying a little jovial banter around the dinner table when something struck my wife as funny. She started to laugh. My oldest daughter caught the “bug” and joined the “laughter contagion.” My youngest daughter and I looked at each other before sitting back with a chuckle to watch them roll around and cry in laughter. (PS—this happens a lot at our house…my youngest daughter and I actually instigate it when we can). And, we love it. I love to see my family laugh. I love to laugh with them.

  • Laughing together creates wonderful memories filled with unconditional acceptance. Laughter within a family indicates a feeling of acceptance, a sense that one is safe enough to “let go” and laugh. Laughing together bonds us together, increasing “group cohesion.” Who doesn’t want to belong to a family filled with memories of warm acceptance experienced in laughter?
  • Laughing together replaces fear and shame with togetherness, hope and well-being. It reframes fear into moments of acceptance and events that we can manage and resolve, even laugh at. It releases shame and replaces it with the knowledge that we are accepted in spite of our shortcomings, mishaps, and failures. Laughter also increases hope, self-esteem, and well-being.
  • Laughing together builds a sense of safety for everyone present. If we can laugh together, we can approach one another with humor and resolve differences together as well. After all, laughter enhances problem-solving ability, creativity, and perspective. We can all feel safer knowing we approach differences with the creativity and perspective provided by a good sense of humor and laughter.
  • Laughing together is contagious. One person with a genuine laugh will bring at least a smile to the face of each person present. As that smile turns to laughter, our lives become entwined in the joy of the moment. We become more intimate as moments of laughter release the frustrations, tensions, and even anger that separate us.


A family that laughs together stays together. So look for those moments when you might share a good laugh with your family…and let it out. Laugh it up…together. (If you have trouble finding something to laugh about, watch this video with your family.)

The Gift Every Child Wants (& Only You Can Give)

All children desire this gift, but very few cannot articulate it. This gift will provide your children with an amazing sense of security. Although it demands some effort, it will provide African American Couple Laughing On The Floorimmeasurable benefits to you and your children throughout your lifetimes. In fact, your children will benefit from this gift even after you have passed away. Your grandchildren can even benefit from this gift! And, only you can give this gift to your children. Sounds like an expensive gift, doesn’t it? It does carry a price; but the price is mostly measured in the coinage of effort. What is this amazing gift your children desire? What is this gift that carries such great benefits with it? The gift of having parents with a healthy marriage! Let me “unwrap this gift” a little…just to give you a peek into its benefits.


When a marriage relationship is filled with strained and succumbing to the pull of distraction, the home is filled with tension. When the home is filled with tension, children experience stress. Stress creates insecurity. A healthy marriage, on the other hand, lays the foundation for peace and harmony in the home.  Children experience this peace and harmony as security. They feel safe. Moreover, children feel valued and worthy when outside distractions do not impinge on their family life. They desire to remain a part of this peaceful, harmonious home founded on a healthy marriage.


When a marriage is filled with constant conflict and on the verge of collapse, the future of the family, your children’s safe haven, becomes doubtful. Children who have doubts about the future stability of their safe haven feel insecure. As a result, they invest all their energy trying to secure the pillars of their safe haven, you. They invest their energy in your happiness and your marriage rather than investing in their own growth and development, their maturity, and their future. When a marriage is strong and disagreements openly resolved, the future of your children’s safe haven is certain. With confidence in their family’s future, children feel secure enough to explore their world and their selves. They feel safe enough to invest energy in growing their interests and their healthy future lives, which will ultimately bring happiness to the whole family.


When a marriage is in question and spouses at war with one another, children feel responsible to make peace.  They assume a parental role and strive to become the one who negotiates peace between their parents.  When they do not succeed (and they cannot succeed because it is beyond their ability to make peace between warring parents), children begin to feel guilty and anxious. They take the blame for their parents’ failure and unhappiness. They begin to feel inadequate since they cannot “fix” the family. They feel insecure both in relation to others (like their battling parents) and themselves (since they feel inadequate to fix even their home). In a strong marriage, on the other hand, children witness their parents resolving conflict and creating peace in the home. This peace produces a sense of security that allows “kids to be kids.”  It provides a strong foundation from which children can explore, achieve, learn, and grow confident in the trustworthiness of those around them as well as a trust in themselves.


You children desire the gift of living with parents who do the work necessary to build a strong, healthy marriage. Even more, they deserve this gift. When you invest in your marriage, you give your children the gift they desire more than they even know; and, you give them the added gifts of peace of mind, a sense of security, and a confidence in themselves and their future. Do your children a huge favor. Get your spouse and wrap up a beautiful, healthy marriage as a gift for them to witness and receive.

Hot Sauce Vs. the Power of Relationship

When you build strong, secure relationships with your children, you promote world peace. Does that sound like an overstatement? Well, consider Mikulincer’s research. Mikulincer rescuerasked 120 undergraduate Israeli Jews to give both an Israeli Jew and an Israeli Arab a sample of hot sauce. He used these two groups because “research has shown that [these two groups] tend to react to each other with prejudice, hostility, and overt aggression” (you know this by watching the news).  Before the undergraduates set apart a sample amount of hot sauce to give an Israeli and an Arab, half were subliminally primed with the name of a person with whom they have a secure attachment (a strong, loving, life-enhancing relationship). The other half of the group was not. The results: the Israeli Jews who were not primed with the name of a person they have a secure relationship with were more likely to give larger amounts of hot sauce to the Israeli Arab than to the fellow Israeli Jew. Those primed with the name of person they have a secure relationship with gave equal amounts to each and kept the amounts relatively small. The participants showed more tolerance and even compassion after being primed with a secure relationship. They held to more harmonious values, even when engaging a group of people with whom they have long-standing conflict.


Obviously, relationships are powerful. Family relationships (our primary attachment relationships) are even more powerful. They impact more than our immediate family. When children leave the nest, their family relationship goes with them. It impacts how they view and respond to other people. Do you want to raise children who exhibit tolerance toward other people? Do you want your children to act compassionately toward others? It begins you’re your relationship to them. The more secure your relationship with your children, the more likely they will exhibit tolerance and compassion toward others. To build a secure relationship with your children:

  • Prioritize spending time with your children.
  • Verbally express how much you love your children. Tell them you love them. Acknowledge their work. Recognize their efforts. Encourage them. Validate them. Each of these verbally expresses love.
  • Practice healthy, loving touch with your children. Give them a kiss good-bye or good-night. Put an arm around their shoulder. Slap a high five. Even the NBA (link) has found that appropriate touch increases trust and security.
  • Offer age appropriate limits, boundaries, and consequences. Yes, discipline is an essential part of a secure relationship. No need to become harsh. Simply make the limits known and understood. Then, as calmly as possible, enforce the consequences of breaking those limits and boundaries.


These four tips will go a long way in helping you develop a secure relationship with your children. By developing that secure relationship, you will raise more tolerant and compassionate children. You will be doing your part to promote world peace in your own corner of the world!

One Practice for a Healthier New Year

Apple TreeAn old proverb encouraged healthy eating by reminding us “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” I do agree that an apple a day beats getting sick. Carnegie Mellon University has discovered another way to keep the doctor away, another daily practice that can encourage healthy living. This one is free and I love it! To test this method of encouraging health, researchers exposed 404 adults to a common cold virus. (The volunteers knew about the exposure and were paid $1,000 for their involvement. What would you do for a thousand bucks?) After the initial exposure, volunteers were quarantined and monitored for symptoms. Some of the volunteers developed cold symptoms. Some did not. Researchers compared who did and did not develop cold symptoms with perceived social support in general and being hugged by a trusted person, in particular. The results showed that being hugged by a trusted person actually protected participants from the cold virus. In other words, those who reported receiving more hugs over the two weeks prior to exposure were less likely to catch a cold…even when intentionally exposed to the virus! And, for those who did catch the cold, the volunteers who reported more frequent hugs in the two weeks prior to exposure developed less severe symptoms. It seems a hug a day can keep the doctor away. I’ve been requesting extra hugs since I read this article…for purposes of remaining healthy of course.


Now you know this free health promoting practice: hugging. If you want a healthy family this year, go ahead and encourage everyone to eat an apple a day. But, don’t stop there. Add a new action to your family health plan. This year, prevent illness by giving your spouse and kids at least one hug a day. If you really want to make it special and enjoy even more benefits, share an oxytocin hug each day. Help your family stay healthy. Share a hug every day. After all, it seems “a hug a day keeps the doctor away.”

Family Fun Night is for the Birds

Yellow Billed HornbillSome people believe “this Family Fun Night stuff” is for the birds. Well…I agree. It’s a great idea. Head out to your local aviary and share a Family Fun Night with the birds. Now I know this may sound like a bird-brained idea, but you only need to check out your local aviary to see how much fun you can have with this flight of fancy. The National Aviary in Pittsburgh, PA (my hometown, btw) is celebrating “Owl-O-Ween” on October 18 and 25. Every day, you can watch the birds get fed…and, even participate in feeding them. To satisfy your artistic flair, you might pick your favorite colors for the penguins to use in creating an artistic masterpiece…and take the picture home! You can also celebrate your child’s birthday (“bird-day”) at the Aviary. To add soaring heights of fun to your flight, listen to “The Birds” as you migrate to and from the Aviary. Would it be too much to devour chicken sandwiches for lunch beforehand? Better not, stick with a burger. (My apology to the cows.) At any rate, Family Fun Night is now for the birds…and the ornithologist (bird-lover) in your family. Fly on over to the Aviary to see the unusual, the colorful, the graceful, and the bizarre (hey, that sounds like my family…I’m just saying!) and discover how a great Family Fun Night is for the birds.

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