I absolutely LOVED reading through the comments that were left two weeks ago in response to this post.
By far the most common response was eating together. I’m pretty sure studies show there is direct correlation between children’s success in school (and life) and the time they spend around the dinner table in conversation with family members — so way to go! Here, in random order are some of the other “family strengthening” ideas you shared — all of your ideas are wonderful!
- For Christmas we are doing an advent calendar with activities rather than gifts or candies. We will have things like drink hot chocolate, watch a holiday movie, drive to see the Christmas lights, make an ornament or string popcorn. All the things we can do as a family.
- Date night with one of our 4 kids on Monday night (rotating so that each child has a date with mom or dad once a month)
- We work together to give of our time to people that need something.
- Exercising faith and the power of positive thinking. We encourage optimism in each other and our little boys. We tell each other life is good and that our trials are just strengthening us, so bring it on! In line with this is the fact that we don’t permit name calling or rude behavior- we are working to teach our boys to think of others besides just themselves, especially their own family members.
- One thing my family and I do is the Grocery Shopping together. Since we all live in the house and it is nice to share the chores, we go as a family. It’s just an extra way our family spends time together.
- Morning waves. When my husband goes off to work, we all gather at the window to wave to him. My 3 yr old stands, I kneel down and help my 10 mo old stand, the two dogs come over, and we all wave (well, the dogs just look cute, they don’t wave) and my husband rolls down his window and waves and blows kisses as he drives away.
- Time in the car is talk time. It is when I find out whats up. I have found that it is when my kids will talk to me the most openly and honestly.
- Mom and Dad have a date night every week. This is a non-negotiable, immoveable date night. This instills in our children the foundation to cherish those you love.
- never be judgmental.
- make sure I actually listen to the members of my family when they are talking to me.
- It’s the little things that really matter – taking time to realize all the little things he does for me and being appreciative.
My little blog poll was inspired by a talk that David A. Bednar gave at the recent general conference of the LDS church. I remembering listening and thinking “Yes. Yes. Yes.” When I re-read the talk in the conference report I loved the message even more. Elder Bednar suggests three things we can do to be more diligent and concerned at home, thus fortifying our families as the foundation of a healthy society and life long success.
Many of the suggestions/comments you left fall into these categories!
1. Express love and show it.
As disciples of the Savior, we are not merely striving to know more; rather, we need to consistently do more of what we know is right and become better. We should remember that saying “I love you” is only a beginning. We need to say it, we need to mean it, and most importantly we need consistently to show it. We need to both express and demonstrate love.
I’m learning that teenagers don’t spend a lot of time at home. I’m trying to make sure that when my older boys are home, they hear me say “I love you” and “I appreciate you” because let’s be honest, sometimes all I feel like doing is telling them to pick up after themselves or help out a little. Both of my boys found little hidden notes from me a week ago when I posted this *sprinkle* and both of them mentioned the note and thanked me. Cool.
2. Bear testimony and live it.
We need to tell our children the things we know to be true. There are opportunities in everyday conversation to talk about God’s love and creations; the opportunity we have through Christ’s atonement to repent, ask forgiveness and try again and reality of answered prayers and the spiritual guidance you feel as a parent. As children grow it can become less comfortable to discuss spiritual things — but teens have ‘hypocrisy’ radar — they are watching to see if you live what you say you believe. I have felt myself being watched many times. When I do screw up, I try to admit it and talk about what I’m going to do to remedy the situation.
3. Be consistent
As a mom looking back on 16 years (so far so good) I can’t agree more with this one. It is so important to be consistent — especially in things like family prayer and family time together. We finally watched the movie, UP on Friday night and the best line (in my opinion) in the whole movie is ” … sometimes it’s the boring stuff I remember the most .”
I was relieved to hear Elder Bednar, talk about the reality of raising three sons …
Sometimes Sister Bednar and I wondered if our efforts to do these spiritually essential things were worthwhile. Now and then verses of scripture were read amid outbursts such as “He’s touching me!” “Make him stop looking at me!” “Mom, he’s breathing my air!” Sincere prayers occasionally were interrupted with giggling and poking. And with active, rambunctious boys, family home evening lessons did not always produce high levels of edification. At times Sister Bednar and I were exasperated because the righteous habits we worked so hard to foster did not seem to yield immediately the spiritual results we wanted and expected.
I also loved this analogy that Elder Bednar shared:
In my office is a beautiful painting of a wheat field. The painting is a vast collection of individual brushstrokes—none of which in isolation is very interesting or impressive. In fact, if you stand close to the canvas, all you can see is a mass of seemingly unrelated and unattractive streaks of yellow and gold and brown paint. However, as you gradually move away from the canvas, all of the individual brushstrokes combine together and produce a magnificent landscape of a wheat field. Many ordinary, individual brushstrokes work together to create a captivating and beautiful painting.
Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable. But just as the yellow and gold and brown strokes of paint complement each other and produce an impressive masterpiece, so our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results. “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33). Consistency is a key principle as we lay the foundation of a great work in our individual lives and as we become more diligent and concerned in our own homes.
We had a great Thanksgiving weekend with plenty of time to just hang out. Anytime there is lots of togetherness, there is bickering–but there are also moments of intense joy when you realize that building a strong family really is the coolest thing you can do. I’m so grateful to you for sharing you amazing insights and ideas with me.
Have a wonderful week!