The family is under attack!
Ok, stand down, good soldiers. No need to pick up your weapons and start waging war. In fact, we are all too eager to do battle these days. But it may be the actual fighting that is creating so much division in our culture and under our own roofs. No matter where you stand on the issues of the day, we are all so outraged—especially in this new post-Covid era. The division and accusations are tearing apart our institutions, communities, and sadly… our families.
So, what can we do as intentional parents to foster more unity, communication, and positivity in our personal relationships with our spouse and children?
Not only is the answer important to your own family’s future and viability, but it has broader consequences for our extended families, country, and world. When we strengthen bonds at a cellular level—in the immediate family, we have the potential to spread that goodness throughout the world. The family can and should be the source of unity. In other words, unify your own family and we will eventually see the results on the culture-at-large. The stakes are high! That’s why we’ve got you covered. Follow the following suggestions and your family will light a path to more character strengths like unity, respect, patience, and kindness.
3 Simple Tips to Bolster Unity in Your Family Today:
Be More Intentional About Disagreements
In this fast-paced world, most of us no longer exhibit the virtue of patience. We aren’t conditioned to wait for anything. And yet, it is often the key to being thoughtful and measured in our responses. But, we want to respond and we want to do it now, gosh darn it!
If a child or parent comes to you with a harsh critique, wide-raging pronouncement, or a value that goes way against your own value system—STOP! Don’t react. When we react we are often responding in a warrior mindset. How dare she say our family is… or that we are wrong about… Instead, let your kid/spouse/mother-in-law (oops did I write that?!) know that you value their opinion and passion (both very good things!), but you need to take it in and really consider it before engaging in discussion. Then, take it to prayer, meditation, deep thought—whatever your spiritual inclination— and be intentional in responding. That doesn’t mean take time to build an airtight case against the person. Nope, consider why they may be feeling that way. Seek greater understanding. It’s okay to think about it and STILL disagree. That’s good and healthy, but how you respond in that disagreement makes all the difference.
That leads to tip #2—Argue, but don’t fight!
Fighting is characterized by accusation, animosity, aggression, and anger directed at a person rather than their position.
Instead true argument means we:
- observe carefully,
- offer hypotheses,
- think clearly and logically,
- draw conclusions reasonably,
- admit when you don’t know something, and
- accept criticism gracefully.
We need to be OK with disagreements; they don't mean we love each other any less. It’s important to value the opinions and passion of all family members. But true argument is a graceful art that offers authentic respect for those we disagree with. Lean in to the idea of differences of opinion and healthy argument in your family—and watch the amount squabbling actually go down.
Finally, tip #3 is key to changing our mindset from divisive to unitive—Spend Less Time On Social Media
It’s so important to be aware that social media is manipulative. Don’t get taken in by the disturbing power of social media persuasion. Think about it, if we watch one video about some cause or concern, the algorithms kick in and say, hey, that person likes this stance, so send 15 more videos or articles about that. Before we know it, we become entrenched in outrage and division. It’s important to keep this in mind with your kids. If you and your family find that they are highly agitated about everything, it may be a good time to fast from social media as a family. Ask yourself regularly if the websites, or video sources you refer to are voices of division and end-of-the-world pronouncements. If they are, avoid them! They are drawing their power from division, hatred, and conflict. No bueno. Take a break from social media and watch your stress, depression, angst and combative nature take a much-needed dip.
Above all, be grateful for all the uniqueness, confidence, determination, passion in each and every family member.
We should never make someone feel bad for feeling strongly about something. Those are qualities and character strengths that deserve to be celebrated. When we achieve this in a family, we can have a discourse that leads to growth, learning, and understanding. Suddenly, every family member feels loved, respected and valued.
Your family may be under attack from all sides, but you are building one heck of a fence with character strength. Strength of character is the protection that will get you through anything, including the culture of outrage.
If you’d like a guided tour for implementing even more character strengths into your family, check out our all-new subscription box experience, Adventure into Character.
Kids and parents unbox fun, engaging prompts, activities, and exercises designed to unite the family on a new character strength with each kit. You’ll “travel” to destination order & organization, gratitude, generosity, respect, forgiveness and more. What value would you place on more cooperation, pitching-in, unity and a whole lot less nagging, squabbling, and isolation in your family? Family life is an adventure regardless, why not take the guided path that avoids all those pitfalls? Ummm… yes, please.
If you have an issue you’d like our help with, drop us a line at Hello@FamiliesofCharacter.com. If you’re experiencing a problem, chances are thousands of other families are in the same boat. We’re ALL in this parenting boat together!
Remember to tap into our Thrive Community on Facebook. It’s free and our team’s very own clinical counselor offers helpful tips and encouragement to parents who are adventuring together.