I feel confident that these tips have really helped us build a strong family foundation in our home. We’re a very close-knit family and we love it! As our kids get older we hear them talk about how much they love our family, and how much they want a family that is close to one another like ours is. They look forward to a future when they are grown and are able to remember these years while continuing to enjoy their close relationships with all of us.
Here are a few things we intentionally do to ensure our family foundation stays strong, even through trials and difficult seasons. We aren’t a perfect family by any means, we have struggles just like any other. But I’m confident that if these tips below weren’t already in play – things would be very different in our home (and not in a good way).
Number 1: Be Present
In an age of digital domination, it’s easy for us to be around our family without actually being present. Someone is always glued to a digital device, tv, game, or whatever. And our family has all of these and we all enjoy them. But we enjoy them outside of our intentional family time. This means kids get to play on the computer or game system at specific times that my husband and I have agreed on. And you know what? One of us is usually hands on during that time, enjoying it with them. It’s a unique way to continue to present, even though a screen is involved in our entertainment.
We eat meals together, as often as we can. And it’s not always at the dinner table! We have at least one meal a day together, and our kids always eat together – regardless of the time of day. They eat breakfast together, lunch together, and dinner together – even if one of us parents isn’t able to make it to that meal time.
Sometimes we don’t eat at the table and have a little picnic in the living room. While we eat, we play a board game or something of that sort. No digital games though during dinner, even on these out-of-the-box dinner nights when we aren’t eating at the dinner table.
Our goal is to have at the very least 6 meals a week where we are all eating together. As a family grows it does become harder to make every meal a time where we are all at the table, so we aim for at least six a week.
We make ourselves available to our family first. This means that friends do not come before our kids, nor before each other. We don’t crowd our schedule jam-packed with things to do because we feel our time is best spent with each other. When we are all busy doing our own things, we begin to disconnect from one another – because it’s naturally difficult to fit in intentional family time when your main focus is on everything outside of your family.
Number 2: Celebrate each other
May families tend to create a weird divide among themselves. They treat each child as an island, verses as part of the family. Here’s an example: Little Billy scores the winning goal at his big game. Mom and Dad celebrate him by taking him out to his favorite restaurant. But they leave little Cindy and Jimmy out because they are too young, or they just won’t get it, or they just want to have this time be for little Billy only.
I get it, we want each of our kids to feel validated and uniquely loved. But when we begin to divide success and achievements like this – we divide our families. When little Billy grows up he’ll begin to pull away from his closest loved ones and go off to celebrate his accomplishments with others. When little Cindy and little Jimmy see little Billy achieve something in the future, they will have no desire to celebrate him because they were taught (by habit and actions), that it has nothing to do with them.
Teach your children from a young age to celebrate one another and to truly encourage them on in their accomplishments. Your family is a unit, not individual islands floating around through life, only bumping into one another on occasion.
On birthdays, celebrate as a family. Don’t exclude anyone from that celebration. One of the things my kids absolutely adore is their birthday celebration. The birthday person gets to pick the restaurant and we all go there to eat dinner (or whatever meal) that day. The whole day is spent as a family. If it’s a week day, my husband takes the day off. My children look forward to this day because the whole family comes together and enjoys each other in this celebration.
Each member of our family is important, and we all come together to celebrate them – as a family.
Number 3: Talk about fears
Facing fears with someone is often a bonding experience. When someone helps you get through a difficult time, issue, season – you often create a unique bond with that person. As parents, we need to be that to our children. Not their youth pastor, not their best friend, not their teacher. YOU as their parent need to be the one they work through fears with.
Why? Because no one more than you will understand them and you will always want the best for them. Be open with your children about your own fears. This is hard because it means a lot of prideful walls need to be broken down. But it’s super important to build a strong foundation with your child, and your family.
Don’t let your children think you are perfect, or that you’ve got it all handled. Allow them to see you struggle, wrestle with things, and work through them. This process builds a unique respect and trust from them towards you.
Number 4: Talk about faith
If you don’t, the world will. And if the world does this – their little heads will be impressed with ridiculous nonsense. Share your faith with your children, pray with them, encourage them through your faith. Doing so will help them find their path and will help build strong convictions in them as they get older.
Create opportunities to pray with your children and to talk with them about God. Pray with them before they go to bed, pray with them when they are struggling, and praise Him with them when life is going great too! As we expose our children to God’s truth, they’ll begin to want to know more!
Talking about faith, about God, His truth, and reading His Word is such a sweet and wonderful way for a family to grow closer to one another, building that solid family foundation.
I’m reminded of Matthew 7:
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” Matthew 7:24-25
And we see what happens when we don’t do this in the next verses:
“And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:26-27
When family bonds are strong in Him and in each other – no shaking of its foundation will break it. Your family WILL withstand trials, hardships, and storms – if you have diligently worked on building a strong family foundation.
So, what are some of your tried-and-true tips to building a stronger family foundation?