For this week’s topic, I wanted to cover something that probably won’t be mind blowing, but should serve as a reminder of truths we already know. I want to talk about bringing peace to our homes. As the leader of my home, I play a large part in the atmosphere of my living environment. In other words, if I am setting a tone of worry, anger, or negativity, then my family is likely to follow my footsteps. While there is much debate about the ratio of nature vs nurture when it comes to a child’s outlook on life, there are few that would deny that parents have a strong influence on a child’s early mental and emotional development. Since we, as fathers, are responsible for setting the mood, it is my goal to provide some simple strategies that we can use to keep the peace at home.
To begin, let’s make sure that we are all working with the same definition of peace. When I say that our goal is to create a peaceful environment, I am inferring that all family members see the home as safe, functional, and generally uplifting. That does not mean that there is no room for roughhousing, arguments (at least from time to time), or a place to express our emotions. All of these things are crucial to a genuine relationship among family members. We should not throw all our differences, concerns, or needs under a rug to maintain a false sense of tranquility. On the contrary, I am saying that we would grow comfortable with talking through the hard issues and have crazy, goofy fun as a family. It is possible to have peace in the home and have “off days” or to “kick back and let loose.”
With this in mind, here are my three strategies that I will be covering in more detail: avoiding negativity, encouraging/modeling honesty, and providing order. I am sure that there are plenty of other ways that we can bring peace to our home, but these three strategies are a great way to get started. If you have any other suggestions or insights, please share your thoughts in the comments. As I progress in writing these posts, I am understanding the need for open conversation more and more. I know that there are others much wiser than I, who have their own thoughts to contribute. All I ask is that as we share, we do so balancing truth and love in our words.
That brings us back to the first strategy, avoiding negativity. If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last year, then I am guessing that you have experienced your own share of negativity from others (and quite possibly spread some yourself as well). As life becomes more uncertain and differences more apparent, staying positive can seem very difficult. Keeping this negativity out of the home is likewise no walk in the park. To do so, we must first recognize our role as gatekeeper. We are the ones who stand at the gate and determine what is going to come through. Think of negativity like lice, we don’t want to be the ones to bring these pests into our home. We must do all that we can to make sure negativity stays outside. However, negativity doesn’t just come from us. Our kids and partners can pick it up from other sources as well. It’s on the Internet, it comes from the mouths of peers, you can watch it on TV. If we can be on the lookout for negativity sneaking into our home by means other than ourselves, then we can work to reverse the spread. By being a beacon of positivity to those around us, we can be a light in a dark world.
The next strategy is to model honesty and encourage it in the home. I imagine that you may be wondering how honesty might be relevant to creating peace in the home. If so, consider this question- if you get the idea that someone is withholding information from you, how at peace are you when you are around them? I know that I would be on high alert and full of suspicion. Those are not the ingredients of peace. When we are honest with others, in a respectful fashion, then they can let their guard down around us. When we encourage others to be honest, we are leading them toward creating a safe environment for themselves and others. This in turn brings peace among the family members. On a further note, let me add that if we are going to encourage others to be honest with us, we need to provide a safe place for them to share. If we attack them or become easily defensive, then we are hurting the peace that honesty would have offered.
The final strategy is to provide order for the family. As I have hinted at a few times now, when people feel uncertain or confused, they often have difficulty finding peace. Providing order is one way to combat uncertainty and confusion. Here are a few ways that we can provide order that leads to peace in the home: 1) We can create a calm living environment by cleaning up the house. A messy house creates chaos for the inhabitants. It is very difficult to order one’s thoughts when surrounded by overwhelming stimulus. 2) Help the children to learn basic problem solving skills. As the children become comfortable with solving quarrels or adapting to basic life conflicts on their own, they will begin to develop peace for themselves. 3) Stay consistent. I know I say this a lot, but this is crucial for young children. Staying consistent with routines and parenting style allows the children to know what is expected of them and how they can respond appropriately. 4) Differentiate your tones. The way you talk or act when it is time to play or when it is time to get serious should be different. If your children can’t figure out what the mood is, they are likely to become confused or anxious. Just as well, we can also confuse our children by bouncing around in tones from one to the other. If it’s time to work, we shouldn’t be goofing around. If it’s time to play, then we don’t need to be talking like an instruction manual.
Those are my strategies for us to practice this week as we work toward peace for our family. Like I said before, let me know if you have any other thoughts to add. I am fully aware that there is plenty more room to explore the topic of bringing peace to the home. With that in mind, I look forward to jumping into another topic with you next week. Stay Rock Solid, Dads!