By Karen Whiting, Crosswalk.com
Harmony at home takes work to help individuals live together with kindness and love. It begins with inner peace and choosing to do what you can to develop an atmosphere of calmness. In addition, build bonds that bridge the difference in personalities and desires. Here are some tips that nurture peaceful family life.
Chaos and confusion are the opposite of order. According to 1 Corinthians 14:33, God is not a God of confusion (chaos) but peace. Maintaining organization in the home helps calmness reign, lessens stress, makes it easier to find items, creates a safer place, and makes it easier to open your doors to socialize.
It takes work to maintain order, and the family needs to be part of the team, with tasks for each person to do. It can help to have one weekend morning a month to do a deeper cleaning together and then enjoy the reward of a special activity or outing. That also builds team spirit and pride in the home. The goal should be to create comfort with order, not obsessiveness.
Each individual needs to be responsible for their own items and put them away instead of just dropping things around the house. That may mean mom putting items left behind in storage and an additional task assigned to get them out.
Rivalry between siblings or to be a parent's favorite causes discord. A parent's favoritism also causes conflicts and hurt. A family needs unity and caring for all members. One of the best ways to nurture unity is by praying for one another.
Our family created what we call family POW-WOWs. That means to Pray over worry and worship over wonders. Each person states one worry or prayer need and one wonder for which to thank God. The person next to the one who named the two items prays one sentence to ask for God's help and one praise to thank God for the blessing. Our children bonded more through praying for one another. They'd follow up on the worry to see if God answered the prayer and turned the worry into a wonder. They became happy and not jealous of the blessings each one received.
Other ways to reduce rivalry is to fill children's needs for attention and approval by praising each child daily, showering them with affection, avoiding comparisons, and really listening to each individual when they talk.
Peace is not the absence of differences or conflict but learning to handle them calming and seeking mutually beneficial solutions. It takes a little wisdom, too, so pray for God to give you ideas.
-Meet in a neutral spot when everyone is calm.
-Let each person involved have an opportunity to share their position. Discuss what is selfish and what is appropriate in desires.
-Be willing to be flexible and pray for God's guidance.
-Brainstorm possible solutions that are good for all parties.
-List the pros and cons of each proposed solution.
-Forgive one another.
-List compromises that may be needed.
-Choose a solution to try and set a date to discuss how it is working out.
-Evaluate the outcome at the set date.
Understand Extroverted Personalities
Consider which of the four main temperaments describes each person's personality in your home and how you can best get along knowing the differences. This is different from personality disorders, such as a narcissist who has no empathy and needs professional help. Here are some basics on four personalities and how to nurture each one. Here are the more extroverted personalities:
Playful social interactor loves extrovert loves to be around people and craves attention. This person is also a natural cheerleader but is very talkative and has difficulty following through on promises. Give this person extra attention and praise, and remind them to thank others. Let this child help plan holiday and birthday activities.
Roaring lions like to take charge, set goals, and direct everyone. They can seem bossy and forget to express appreciation, but they grasp ideas fast, work hard, become high achievers, and are natural leaders. Give this person some control, such as planning a family activity or tutoring a younger sibling.
Understand Introverted Personalities, Too
Remember that every personality has strengths to applaud and weaknesses to work on. The more introverted people prefer to stay home.
Busy beavers are quiet, thoughtful thinkers who strive for perfection. They can fixate on problems or tasks, be sensitive to comments, and hold grudges. But they are also naturally analytical, artistic, and take time making decisions. They need to be encouraged to forgive others. Give them extra time for tasks, suggest they start to get ready earlier than others, and let them have their own space. Thank them when they contribute ideas and speak up. Enlist them to work on details for activities. This person is more easily stressed, so help them find what best relieves their stress.
The friendly supporter is a natural peacemaker with a great sense of humor and empathy. This person makes an excellent negotiator to help bring peace, but they can also procrastinate. Use incentives, such as extra time to relax, to motivate the person to action. Praise this person's peacemaking efforts, and ask for their advice on keeping peace in the home.
Schedule Activities to Keep Peace
It's good to hang up a calendar with room to write in appointments and activities. For larger families, assign a color for each person and write their activities in that color. One glance will show you who has a busy day! That makes it easier for everyone to know a person's location and ensure each one has a ride when needed. Always check the upcoming week to make sure any advance preparation is done.
Set goals and make plans for family vacations, holidays, and other special times as a family. Let each one give input on what would make it special. That will give each hope that they will enjoy those activities and look forward to them.
Encourage respect by modeling it. If someone puts another person down, remind them you love that person and God placed them in your family, so they are important. My husband and I always responded to a child putting down the opposite parent with a reminder that that's the person I married and love, so please honor them. We never put down one another in conversations but praise each other.
Stop any disrespectful behavior of words or actions, from taking someone's personal items without asking to calling one another unkind names. Listen actively to one another and teach children how to focus and listen to the person speaking. When you are busy, ask if you can talk after you finish the task.
Each individual has different stress triggers and reacts differently to stress. Reactions vary from loud and crying tantrums or rages to sulking, hiding, or passive aggression. Observe each person, including yourself, to understand the stressors and what reduces the stress for each. If the reactions are abnormal, consider seeking professional help. Try various stress busters.
-Help busy beavers who stress about not doing something perfect enough to lower expectations and be thankful for what goes well.
-Let the person with a tantrum (usually an extrovert) go to a place alone to calm down. This does not feed the need for attention. When you know what might trigger the reaction, help the child manage the trigger and not respond to it, like ignoring teasing. Help the person prepare to avoid the problem in advance, such as making sure a certain outfit is washed the day before it will be needed.
-Rejection, real or perceived, is especially hard on the social interactor. They hate to be left out. Encompass them with something fun, such as an outing or inviting a friend over.
-The roaring lion will roar when their plans are changed, or someone slows them down or lets them down. Help them be forgiving and make a new plan. Encourage them to have backup activities when things don't move as fast as they want.
-Thoughtful thinkers are planners who feel pressured when they are not given enough time. Help them say 'no' when they are not ready. Help build their decision-making skills so that they can make faster decisions.
-Some people need to talk things through when stressed, while others need to be alone to think things through.
-Laughing helps people relax, so have some good jokes or funny stories to share. Enjoy a favorite humorous movie together.
-Exercise is good. That includes breathing exercises to slow the heart rate as well as movement to increase endorphins that make a person feel happier.
-Some people like to journal or draw to relieve stress. Others like music or nature to relax.
-Some people like to talk to friends when stressed.
Help everyone focus on others through serving one another. Take turns being the snack or drink provider or dinner sous chef. Enlist help carrying in groceries or helping with a task requiring extra hands. Then praise the helpers.
Go beyond your home walls to help other people. Enlist your children to help an elderly neighbor with yard work or a single mom with watching her children. Volunteer to make sandwiches for the homeless. Let children choose to pass on dessert for a few days and use the month to buy groceries for a food bank. Have children donate gently used toys and outgrown clothes to the needy. When they experience joy as they give to others, they will also develop compassion.
Communicate with Honesty and Openness
When there's a problem, such as a job loss or a family member with a terminal illness, hold a meeting and discuss what's happening. Children will feel they are part of the solution if they are informed and can make suggestions to help. They are more willing to have the thermostat adjusted or cut back on expensive activities if they understand the need.
Communicate together to work as a team. For example, when our family asked out children to read through letters asking for donations and to discuss where to give a certain amount of money, they took it seriously. They added a few charities they knew about to the list. After discussion and prayer, we divided the money, and they each chose one cause to which the family donated. Discussing decisions as a family fosters team spirit.
Also, be open to listening to your children and their desires. Let them defend their desires. When one child wanted an electronic device in her room, they asked her to write the reasons she should have it. She worked hard and presented a strong argument, so they let her have it, with some boundaries on its usage. Compromise and responding to children's needs affirms them, helps them learn decision-making skills, and lets them know their voice is important.
May these tips help your family live more peacefully. Let this acrostic help you act with peace:
Praise each person's positive actions of kindness and peace.
Eagerly open ears to listen to one another.
Accept individual personalities and interests as the unique people God created.
Consider others' needs and be willing to serve others with love.
Entreat God in prayer for your family and one another.
Karen Whiting, author of more than thirty books, writes to strengthen families. Her newest book, Growing a Peaceful Heart, shares stories that show how to have inner peace, increase peace in relationships, and be peacemakers.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/monkeybusinessimages
Karen Whiting is a mom, author, international speaker, writing coach, and former television host who loves sharing ideas to strengthen families. She has written Growing a Mother’s Heart: Devotions of Faith, Hope, and Love from Mothers Past, Present, and Future. Check out her new book 52 Weekly Devotions for Family Prayer that includes a different way to pray each week plus stories and activities to explore questions children ask about prayer She loves adventure including camel riding, scuba diving, treetop courses, and white water rafting plus time at home crafting and baking.