How can we develop solid, loving relationships in our family?
One of the major struggles that most families experience is in the area of family relationships. Everyone experiences some level of conflict among family members, and if we allow these conflicts to go unresolved, they will bring division and bitterness into our family and will diminish our effectiveness for the Lord.
As home-educating parents, we face the full-time responsibility of ensuring that our children’s spiritual, physical, and educational needs are met. In the midst of this, it is easy to miss out on nurturing loving relationships that will carry them through their adult years. Since there are many opportunities for conflicts, we would like to present encouragement for developing loving relationships within the home.
The foundation of a dynamic home must be a love for God and His Word and loving relationships between family members. Scripture states, “How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1). God’s purpose for families is that they dwell together in unity.
Maintain a Loving Relationship Between Parents
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25). It is vitally important that parents have a loving relationship with each other. This is one of the best things that we can do for our children. When there is strife in a marriage, the children will be insecure.
When parents spend time with each other, nurturing their relationship, resolving conflicts, investing in one another in practical ways, and enjoying one another, children see that they truly love and value one another. This security will increase the peace and joy in the home.
Win the Hearts of Your Children
There is nothing of greater value in this world than the souls of our children. It is vital that we have the hearts of our children in order to influence them for the Lord and direct them in His ways.
Winning the heart of a child is a unique process with each child, depending on his age, maturity, personality, and interests. It often begins with the parents’ decision to focus on doing whatever it takes to establish a close, God-honoring relationship with him.
To have won a child’s heart is to have openness with him in which he feels secure in sharing his thoughts, ideas, and dreams with the parents, being confident that he will be valued and accepted. Through this relationship of whole-hearted trust and friendship, the parents will be able to guide and direct their child to grow in a relationship with God and will influence him as he makes decisions in life.
Access to the heart gives access to every area in life. It takes an effort to win children’s hearts, and it does not always come naturally. God will give wisdom in this process if we ask. Once we have their hearts, they will obey out of a loving relationship. Whoever has the heart of a child will have his life and loyalty—whether it is his parents, friends, or others. Valuing our children, accepting them, and understanding them are keys to winning their hearts.
Accept Your Children
“Receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God” (Romans 15:7). As parents, we need to accept our children as God has accepted them and allow Him to love them through us. At times each of us is unlovable, but God still loves us unconditionally. God’s expression of love should be our example for loving our children unconditionally.
Children need to know that their parents are grateful for them and that they are a vital part of the family. Showing unconditional love and acceptance for them regularly is necessary for keeping their hearts. If we fail to do this, the children will look to someone else for approval. The goal is for the children to have Mom and Dad be their best earthly sources of love and support.
There is tremendous benefit to praising and blessing our children often. It has been said that we should praise someone fifteen times for every one time that we give them correction. Praise creates an atmosphere of love, joy, and acceptance. Children desire the praise of their parents. They naturally want to please them and gain their acceptance. Mom and Dad should be their biggest fans and encouragers!
Understand Your Children
“Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established” (Proverbs 24:3). We can learn to understand our children by listening to them. It is important that we give undivided attention to them when they talk to us.
When we speak to our children, we need to ask ourselves, “Do I smile at them and make eye contact with them? Am I open to what they have to say? Do they feel that they can share their hearts with me without having me condemn them?” Effective parenting requires good listening skills, which will produce greater understanding.
It is easy for parents to think ahead of their children and to anticipate what they will say or ask. How many times do we already have our minds made up when our children make a request? “Can we buy a…?” “No!” Our children need to know that we value their opinions and perspectives. We do not want to give them an occasion to say, “My parents just do not understand.” When this happens, walls will begin to go up in our relationships.
We have found it helpful to learn about our children’s birth-order tendencies, spiritual gifts, love languages, and personality types. Studying each of these areas helps us see life from their perspective and understand how they view specific situations.
- Do I maintain a loving relationship with my spouse?
- Do my spouse and children see God’s love through the way that I treat them?
- Have I truly listened to my children today?