QUESTION OF THE WEEK
I want to make a new year’s resolution to get closer to my wife and kids, but I really don’t know where to start. Where do I begin? Tom
VERSE OF THE WEEK
“Let everyone of you be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” James 1:19
ANSWER TO TOM
Hello to Tom and to all our readers. We hope you had a wonderful Christmas holiday with your friends and family. Another year is upon us and many people make New Year’s resolutions to try to improve the quality of their lives. While we’ve probably broken as many resolutions as we have made, here is one that had proven to be the most worthwhile to our family. We resolved to maintain emotional closeness with each member of our family by talking to them every day (or as often as possible), inquiring about how they are doing and requesting that a feeling word be shared as a part of their response. “But that sounds like too much work?” “My teenagers will laugh me out of the car?” “I don’t have the time to talk with every member of my family.” Yes, we know how you feel and have felt these ways to, but believe us, it’s worth it.
Here are three steps for Tom and all our readers can take that will enhance the bonding process within your families.
- Make a copy of the “Soul Words” list from our book and put it on the refrigerator. If your house is like ours, where the food is, the family is there as well. If your children cannot read, make a simple list with just a few words and teach them to read the words or remember them with verbal prompts. They are “mad, sad, glad, scared, worried, nervous and embarrassed.”
2. Each person needs to directly ask every member of the family open-ended
questions that require more than a “yes / no” response.
- Tell me about your day.
- What was the best part of your day? The worst?
- Johnny, you look sad, what are you thinking and feeling inside?
- Honey, you’ve been quiet, I’d like to hear what are you thinking about.
- You sound angry, what do you think caused that?
Questions like these encourage the person to articulate thoughts and feelings out loud in the presence of others. Many of us were trained in our childhoods to be quiet and internalize our thoughts and emotions. No wonder then, when many of us get married, we simply do not know how to explain what is going on inside our souls. Always, ask about feelings even if it is uncomfortable.
- Reassure the family member that these feelings are normal even though they are sometimes painful and stress and pain are a part of living in a broken world. Attempt to validate the feeling even if you disagree with it. Remember, it is their experience not yours. Allowing children to become “different” from you is an important part of their psychological and emotional development. After you’ve allowed them to fully vent and explain their feelings, comfort them with a hug of reassurance or celebrate with them their joys of the day.
Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Yet for Tom and most of us, it may be hard to do if we didn’t have parents who helped us learn, practice, and experience sharing our hearts over and over when we were children. We can learn and grow today. God tells us “… speaking the truth in love, grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:15).”
Tom we don’t know how old your kids are. We remember with our kids we encountered protests, pouting faces, stomping feet and stubborn resistance, at first. Keep trying because this method really pays off in the end. Our family now grown is enjoying the fruit of these efforts, as we are able to maintain the bonding process that we started twenty years ago. We like each other and we have the ability to work out differences and share hurts and disappointments with one another. Relationships are the most important thing in your life. Give your time to those you love today.
Milan and Kay