We as individuals and families are not ignorant to the cultural temptations and influences each of us face. Let’s be honest – none of us individually or as families are perfect, but we all can change, improve, and discipline ourselves more. And we must! I have personally found, as I am sure many have, that in the limited precious time of each day, my decisions (good or bad) determine and demonstrate my priorities. And can we not all agree that while we each have priorities such as work, school, community, church, recreation, and personal activities – nothing is more important than the home and the family! No matter what success, degree, or award we attain in this life, it will certainly be meaningless if we have eventually failed in our own homes.
Thus, the question is – what am I personally doing (or not doing) in regards to my family that I can improve upon today? The list is endless; however, allow me to suggest 10 simple things that we must change and do immediately – so that when all is said and done – our families will not only have been the priority, but they will not have been influenced and shaped by the negative impact and influence of the worldly culture that so tempts us every day.
- Turn off the TV More: I know that all of us are tired at the end of the day and simply just want to relax and turn on the TV. Like any technology, TV can be used for such good; thus, when watching TV, ensure that it is uplifting, educational, and wholesome for you and the kids. However, more importantly, lets make a resolve to turn the TV off a little more and just spend more time as a family.
- Eat a Meal Together Daily: Growing up in a home with 8 children (yes 8), you can imagine all of the after-school music lessons, sporting activities, playing with friends, homework, etc. that each of us kids were involved in. Yet, I remember eating dinner every day with my parents and siblings. Did we miss a day here and there? Of course! Did it get harder the older us kids got? Obviously! But, my parents were determined to sit together as a family every day (even if a few kids were at an activity). Like anything in life – when we commit to something, persist and make it happen – good things will result, even if those results don’t become evident until years later! Use meal times to talk, listen, laugh, plan, communicate, and love.
- Say I Love You Daily: This incredibly important advice applies to both your children and your spouse (if applicable). Remember, however, that love is an action, not just a word or simply a feeling!
- Have a Daddy-Daughter or Mother-Son Date Once a Month: This ‘date’ does not need to be fancy or expensive – all your child wants is time and attention. Why is it so important to do this, and to do it consistently? Not only to build a friendship and relationship with your child, but to ensure they feel comfortable just ‘talking’ with you – so that when those challenges, temptations, and questions of life come – they will come to you, and not their friends or the influences of the world.
- Read Together Each Night: As in each of the 4 items mentioned above, the actual ‘reading’ together is not necessarily the important thing, it is the fact that you are spending time together each day. But, like every diet you have ever started – you can’t be committed and determined for a week or two – this must be a consistent thing every day for it to have any lasting and positive impact.
- Turn off the Computer / Internet a Little More: While the internet is certainly one of the greatest resources and tools in our lives, it also is without a doubt one of the greatest potential pitfalls for destroying our personal lives, marriages, and families. Without even discussing the violence of video games, idle time wasted ‘surfing,’ useless shows and movies we waste time on, etc. – there is an ever-increasing plague that is consuming millions of individuals (and thus, families) every single year. It is pornography. A man who looks at and participates in this filth will slowly and eventually realize that he will not only destroy his own life – but his family as well. Use the internet and computer for good, and make a resolve to turn them off more and spend more time with family.
- Teach the Value of Work: When was the last time you and your family went outside and did some yard work together? Do the kids help with the house cleaning or dishes? What chores do the kids have, and do they have to make their bed or clean their rooms? The reality is that participating in such activities not only helps children develop good habits and certainly prepares them for the reality of ‘work’ in the real world, but it allows family to be together and spend time with each other.
- Do Not Buy Them Everything – Teach the Value of Going Without: Despite the me-oriented society we live in, perhaps the greatest thing you can do for your child is to teach them the value of going without, sacrificing, and learning to share/give. This does not mean we can not buy our children nice (and even fun) things; but what it does mean is that whether we have the money or not, we need to teach them to go without occasionally, to work for what they want, and that sacrifice and learning to share/give is far more important than getting everything they want.
- Have a ‘Family Night’ at Least Twice a Month: I once heard that ‘excuses are like feet – everyone has them, and they stink!’ Perhaps we each have become guilty of using the excuse that ‘I don’t have time’ for family. We need to make time! Go out to eat, go to the movies, have a game night, go for a walk, play in the back yard, just talk, etc. Do something, do it as a family, and do it consistently!
- Be Consistent: Perhaps more importantly than anything mentioned above, we need to be consistent doing these activities, not just this week, but always. It is not enough to read this article and feel inspired and motivated to change and improve, what is important (and challenging) is being consistent with these activities every day forevermore. But if consistent is our effort, and we make time for our families, we will be extremely grateful when all is said and done!
Never forget that success in life must not be determined by the degrees obtained, institutions attended, awards won, career achievements, or wealth acquired. Real success in life should only be determined by who we become, the attributes we obtain, the kindness we show, the goodness we radiate, and the unselfish service we give. How does this relate to the topic/article at hand? Because this same standard must be the determinant of what true success is in marriage and family life. Success in marriage and family life actually has nothing to do with worldly achievements, possessions obtained, or even the accomplishments of our spouse or children. Success is only determined by who we become, the people we serve, and the attributes we develop.
Because this principle is true, it should suggest that success in spending time with family is not usually found in attending expensive concerts, going on exotic vacations, owning or visiting resort properties, dining out or shopping regularly, or even sitting down and watching TV together. Success in spending time with family most often entails simple activities that mean the most; such as: having a sincere talk, going on a drive or a walk, having a family night together, playing simple and fun games, serving or working together, or supporting children at their events and performances. It is through these simple and meaningful activities that relationships are strengthened, memories are created, trust is developed, support is given, laughter is enjoyed, life lessons are taught, and love is felt. If this standard of success is our goal, then dealing with the disappointment of certain failures will be far easier than dealing with the disappointment of certain successes if later in life we realize they were not the right successes.