Some of what we are trying to accomplish as parents can be summarized in culture. If you've watched Live On Purpose TV on YouTube, this won't come as a surprise to you that the first thing to focus on is love.
Here are 5 elements to build a healthy family culture:
1. Love has got to be the foundation of your family culture if you want it to be healthy.
Your job as a parent is to love them no matter what and even if. It's so easy to get distracted into thinking that our job is to make sure that they do this or that. Anything that you can finish the phrase with, "make sure that they ___," is going to run you into trouble. As a family, as a culture, it creates a dynamic that's not fun for the parents or for the kids.
2. Time and connection, it matters.
One of the most important things we can do as a parent and as a family is just slowing down our speed long enough that we can be present, look our people in the eyes, take a little time. It doesn't have to be as much as you might think. It really doesn't need to be very long. Just slow down for a minute and really make connection with your family members, it's going to make a big difference in your family culture.
3 specific ways that we can conceptualize what we are going for in our family culture are next.
3. Values before valuables.
We have valuables, but our values are the most important part.
Think about what is important to you. Be very intentional about values are most important to this family culture you are creating.
You can memorialize this in different ways. We've got some vinyl lettering on our wall at home. It says, "Joy in the journey. Force for good. Bless a life today." We intentionally came up with that as a family as one of our themes or our values.
I work with some families where they are working on, "How are we going to transition to the next generation?" And some of these families have businesses or wealth that they need to pass on.
Well, those are valuables.
The research shows if you pass on the valuables without addressing the values... like the work ethic and the honesty and the integrity that goes into creating those valuables in the first place, that it actually damages family culture. It creates more conflicts. It's important at any level within a family to acknowledge what are the values, and then the valuables are still important.
4. Relationships before rules. But still rules.
We really want to focus on the relationship, that is the most important part. We do need the rules in order to set up the limits and the fences to really take care of and nurture those relationships.
Our oldest some came to us one time as a teenager, and said, "Mom, dad. I just want to thank you, guys." And we were like, "Oh, really, what's going on?” He said, "As I work with my friends and I see them, a lot of their parents don't set up really healthy rules and limits and I just see them feeling really lost and in some ways uncared for from it."
It was really interesting that somebody his age was bringing that to us.
We think, if we put limits on their time or actions, they are going to think that we are limiting them, and some kids will say these things as well. "You don't love me, you don't trust me." If you can focus on the relationship, the rules are there to help support the relationship, to make it stronger.
There might be times that you set the rule aside because the relationship might be more important. Be willing to look for those times.
I grew up in an agricultural area and I remember when they would put cattle into a new fenced field. Those cows would go around and push up against the fence. They would try to get under it and poke around for any holes.
And if there's a hole in the fence... they're gone. It doesn’t matter if there is a dangerous highway or deadly canal, they just want to go through the fence.
Kids aren't cows, but they are very similar. They will bump against the rules to see if they're safe inside of it. When they see the rules hold, then they can feel a sense of being loved, protected, and secure in those rules, just don’t expect this during their teenage years.
5. People before problems... but still problems.
People in your family are most important, and you will have problems, it is normal.
Why do we have problems?
They give us an opportunity as a family to teach our kids to handle problems, because they will encounter them out in the world.
A lot gets thrown in our face from the world and sometimes we just see the problem and not the people involved. We put people first and then addressing the problem gets done in a respectful way.
I am excited for your journey as you develop your family culture.
Dr. Paul Jenkins is an author, speaker, personal coach and positivity expert with 20+ years experience as a Professional Psychologist. His book Pathological Positivity and its pocket-sized companion Portable Positivity illuminate powerful principles that when applied can make an immediate difference in your life. Dr. Paul's channel Live On Purpose TV, available on YouTube, has a parenting playlist with a wide variety of subjects to help parents create positivity in their parenting.