Sure-fire ways to have a happy family
Corrie Lynne Player
Setting up, working on, and keeping successful family relationships are, to me, the most important tasks any of us can accomplish. Over the 40-plus years I’ve been writing my columns, I’ve come up with five Principles for a Happy Family: 1. Express yourself, kindly. 2. Keep quiet, appropriately. 3. Empathize with the other person. 4. Learn to read the cues other people display. 5. Keep your body and verbal language in sync.
Today, I’d like to address the first two principles, which I think are most important: expressing yourself kindly and keeping quiet, appropriately.
Express Yourself, Kindly
Ask yourself if you’ve ever changed your mind about something or been convinced of the error of your ways because somebody more powerful than you insisted. While force may be necessary (as in the armed services or police work), it’s not an effective leadership or parenting tool.
Arguing accomplishes nothing. In fact, it generally makes things worse. As the Scriptures tell us, we should “agree with” our “adversaries;” see Matthew 5:25.
The Sermon on the Mount gives us the recipe for peaceful family relationships. (See Matt. 5:22 “ …whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother Raca (a derisive term), shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”
The more upset you feel, the quieter your voice should be. In fact, being quiet is an effective way to start a peaceful conversation.
Keep Quiet, Appropriately
Don’t say what you think all the time–there’s a good reason why only God can read our minds! This principle is an essential part of speaking kindly. Sometimes, the kindest thing to do is keep quiet.
Think about the old saying, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
All of us have a filter on our minds which can keep us from blurting out any old thing that comes into our heads, so we avoid giving offense.
If you have a tendency to put the people closest to you on the defensive, remember that the Spirit will help you. For example, your teen combed his hair into a spiky fringe and you think he looks ridiculous. He thinks he looks way cool. If you say what you think, you’ll only end up in an argument.
On the other hand, your daughter hopped into a car with a guy from school instead of walking over to her girl friend’s house. You wouldn’t have known if her little brother hadn’t told you. This situation requires you to speak up and be the in-charge adult.
But you still should be weighing what you say and giving her an opportunity to explain her behavior. Communication goes both ways. You’ll be more effective if you allow her to express herself, rather than pronounce “you’re busted” edicts.
When you’re not lecturing, you’re giving the other person an opportunity to speak, to be validated. Validation is nourishment to the soul and the basis of a happy home.