Today we’re going to change directions a bit. As we’re in the Christmas season I want to talk about the five characteristics of a healthy family. Christmas is a great time for family to come together and bond. Because of that, I want to talk about some things that have been near and dear to my heart for many years. So this is a bit different from business, real estate and social impact!
A lot of this comes from my personal experience in raising a family: my two kids and my four grandkids.
“Yes, I’ve settled on him as the one to train his children and future family to observe God’s way of life, live kindly and generously and fairly, so that God can complete in Abraham what he promised him.”—Genesis 18:19
Number One: Shows Unconditional Love
Love them when the rest of the world won’t. Make sure you look your children in the eyes and tell them that you are their fix-it-up person. Tell them that no matter what breaks, you’ll work on fixing it. And if it can’t be fixed, let them know you’ll never give up trying. In other words, let them know you care and you’re there.
When they’re in pajamas, drive them to get ice cream—even on a school night! Do things that are different to show them that you love them. Another example is to learn the names of their teachers. In fact, I had to learn this when my kids first started at school. I remember realizing that I didn’t know my daughter’s Kindergarten teacher! I went through the process to find out who it was and then went and met her.
Tuck them in every night. And while you’re there, think of one thing from that day that you can praise them about. It’s important to tell them something positive. You can also tell them made-up stories, Biblical stories, and stories from your own life. This helps the child’s imagination. Make sure you communicate and fill their imagination while you bond with them.
Give them an avenue to succeed. I could just stand here in this vlog and say, “Show them unconditional love.” But the real question is, “How do you do that?”
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.—1 John 4:10
In other words, as parents, it’s not that our kids love us, it’s that we love them, care for them, and show them that. That’s the same for spouses. One person said, “If you want heat out of a stove, you’ve got to put some wood in first.” It works the same way with love. We’ve got to be able to sow love and give love even when we feel like we’re not getting anything in return.
Here are some practical ways to show unconditional love.
- Make eye contact. Many times we’ll make eye contact when it comes to the negative emotions in our life, like anger or disappointment. But when it comes to sharing love, we don’t. A lot of times it’s hard to even find families looking at each other at the dinner table. When you tell your spouse and children that you love them, look them in the eye! People know that I care about them when I’m looking at them.
- Physical touch. Back in the 1970’s, when I was in my early 20’s, I did a pastoral visit to a home. The lady came to the door, and she had four children. They ranged from 2-11. Everything seemed fairly normal, besides kids being kids. And I’ll never forget this. The two-year old, little girl was crying and it broke my heart. I was expecting the mother to say something to her or hug her to settle her down. But when the little girl walked over to the mother, the mother pushed her away. This was her two-year old daughter. She pushed her away and said, “We don’t hug in this family.” All I could think was, “Wow.” Physical touch is one of the primary ways in the family, parent to child, and husband and wife, that we communicate love. Don’t ever be afraid to express physical touch. Don’t be afraid to tell someone you love them and give them a hug.
- Body language. This goes to the eye contact we talked about too. When it comes to body language, you have to let them know that you care. Someone said many years ago, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” One of the ways you show people you care is through body language. I have four grandsons, and one of the things I do is make sure I always turn to face them and look at them or embrace them when they run up to me—no matter what I’m doing. It’s one thing to say “I love you” and there’s no expression—you’re not even looking at them. Remember, 15% of communication is what you say and 85% is your body language. So body language is huge when it comes to communicating in marriage and as parent to child.
When we talk about showing unconditional love, these are some practical ways you can actually do it. In the next vlog, I’m going to take it one step further and talk about the importance of emotionally bonding with your family.
Make sure you hit like, share or comment to help us get the word out! I’m excited about doing this series of vlogs in this season. It’s so important that we understand the importance of the family, how to communicate and how to bond.
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