4 Resolutions to Transform Your Family This Year

I hope you had a great Christmas enjoying your family and recalling the birth of Christ. With 2012 fast approaching, you may be thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Many people establish goals and resolutions with the intent of making their lives better. As you consider resolutions, consider that research suggests a happy family will add years to life while a conflict-ridden family will increase your risk for illness. With that in mind, let me suggest 4 New Year’s resolutions that can build happiness for your family in 2012.
      1.      Resolve to ensure your family members feel understood by you, especially when you get the urge to defend yourself. Do you ever get that urge to defend yourself? I do. I want to make sure they understand me and the reasons for my actions. When we get that urge to defend, stop. Before doing anything else, make sure the person you are talking to feels understood by you. Restate what you believe they intend to say. When they respond with a “Now you understand” or something like that, you have successfully reached understanding. Your family member feels understood. Then, and only then, can you offer your explanation for them to understand. Sometimes, once you understand them you may realize you have no need to defend yourself.
2.      Go a step further and resolve to work hard at truly understanding your family members, especially when you feel misunderstood. When you feel misunderstood by family members, you can bet that they feel misunderstood as well. Use that feeling of being misunderstood as a signal that you need to work harder to understand your family. Quit thinking about your response, explanation, or defense and focus all your energy on listening more closely. Listen to understand the intent of their statement and the emotion behind their statement. Ask questions to clarify what they mean…intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. Doing so communicates love and respect. It lets family members know that you value them and what they have to say. As you understand them, you will find them understanding you better as well.
3.      Resolve to compliment your family members, especially when you feel like criticizing them. When you get the urge to criticize a family member, step back and consider the behavior you want to criticize. For instance, you want to watch TV and your wife is running the sweeper, or, you want to clean the house and your husband is sitting on the porch relaxing. Look for some aspect of that behavior that you can praise or appreciate. Your wife is running the sweeper and you can appreciate how neat she keeps your home. Your husband is sitting on the porch and you can appreciate the work he has done prior as well as his ability to relax. After you have the compliment in mind, go to them, offer the compliment and even put it into action. Stand up, help your wife clean for a time and tell her how much you appreciate the work she does around the house. Stop cleaning, take a moment, and sit on the porch with your husband. Let him know how much you appreciate the work he has done and how much you enjoy sitting with him, relaxing with him, and enjoying his company. This compliment will get you much further than the criticism.
4.      Resolve to read at least one book on family life this year. We study those things we find interesting and valuable. We invest time in learning about work to become better employees. We study sport statistics because we enjoy sports. We watch entertainment news because we enjoy learning about our favorite stars. Really, what could be more valuable than your family? And, in my opinion, nothing is more interesting than family life. So, invest in your family by reading a book or attending a workshop. You can read a book on parenting, marriage, or general family life. You can read it individually or together. Our book, FAMILY BY GOD’S DESIGN, focuses on family in general and offers practical ways to implement honor, grace, and celebration in your family. Other great books can be found on our website at … and some of our favorites at Our Favorite Picks. Whatever you choose, resolve to read one book on family this year.
That’s it—four resolutions for 2012 that can transform your family life. I hope you have a wonderful new year of family honor, grace, and celebration.

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