In the November 29 issue I gave you Part One of “Making Home a Happy Place.” Since I wanted to write a Christmas column and a New Year’s column, I decided to hold Part Two until now.
In Part One I covered three things, namely, (1) a solid foundation, (2) established order, and (3) love with out limits. Now let’s look at four more things that go into making a happy home.
4. A Place of Grace
Even though we may have a home built upon a solid foundation with the right order established and great love for one another, it will also need to be a place where grace is extended. We will all need that!
“Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt” (Col. 4:6).
There will be mistakes and missteps of one kind or another, so there will need to be understanding. I should qualify this by saying com passionate understanding. There will also need to be sincere forgiveness. There should be no cold-shoulder treatment, no holding of grudges and no “making him pay.” True forgiveness puts the offense aside and moves forward.
In addition to that, we need to make home a place of dignity and courtesy rather than letting it be harum-scarum. It should be a place of respectful conduct between husband and wife, parents and children and between siblings as well.
Even though parents are in authority over their children, there should be a respectful enforcement with a loving spirit. It should be consistent, measured and appropriate. The children are not scum or riffraff. They should not be treated as dogs to be kicked around but as people of invaluable worth and great potential. Forbearance is a necessary companion of forgiveness. We could call that tolerance, patience, kindness, restraint or self-control. When we have forbearance in our home, it will be a place of graciousness.
5. Open Communication
Open and honest communication results in good understanding and a deeper emotional connection.
“But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay” (Matt. 5:37).
What a comforting thing to be able to express your feelings, thoughts, hopes and dreams to one another. It should not be a one-way street, but an open and honest exchange of thoughts and ideas.
There also has to be a good amount of listening. Sometimes repeating the message received is helpful for clarification and good understanding. Asking questions is a good way to ensure clear understanding. That can also help draw out those who are reluctant to express their thoughts.
I advocate table talk, travel talk and tuck-in-time talk. We could add here text talk and telephone talk. That really just means that you converse throughout the whole day, exchanging views and ex pressing thoughts and opinions. We must stay in touch and always speak the truth in love.
When my husband travels, he always sends me a text message such as “TD [touch down] in Tampa.” We will talk later of course, but I have an instant message that he has arrived safely at his destination.
I send back a thumbs up mes sage and often a loving heart or some such thing. This is constant, loving and open communication.
6. Time and Attention
Spending time together creates a closeness that cannot be experienced otherwise. To have that closeness I will need to give more than a peck on the cheek or a pat on the back. It requires time spent together. We can spend time together without giving full attention, but both time and attention will be needed for good success in building a happy home.
Plan ways to get your children off the gizmos with their friends. If we are not careful, they will become more in touch with their friends than they are with their own families and will care more about what their friends think than what their parents think.
Plan activities and games to involve them in things they won’t want to miss. Be creative and give it some very thoughtful planning. Even grandparents should plan for activities with their families.
A basketball goal, a ping-pong table and baseball equipment are all enticing things. Some of my granddaughters like to paint. We have had painting parties and times of cooking together. I love it and they seem to as well! Caroline just shared with me a recipe for delicious zucchini brownies! They are made without eggs so my husband can eat them too. Again, it is just family doing family things.
7. Unity of Spirit
We all need to feel that we belong and that we are an accepted part of the family. Children especially need to feel that and to know that they have worth. One thing that helps create that spirit of unity is showing concern for one another’s hurts.
Our granddaughter Susanna had a beautiful and sweet cat that she loved dearly. It became diseased and had to be put down. It hurt her so deeply. The whole family cried together over it and expressed their sympathy and loving understanding.
The next morning, Jonathan got up early in the morning so that he could go bury the pet for his sister before she got up! He wanted the pet to have a proper place of burial and his sister to have that comfort.
To me that showed a sweet and sincere spirit of unity. He was not asked to do that. He just felt deep sympathy for his sister and wanted to help be a comfort to her.
Keeping one another up to date and informed about changes is a big help. Discussing plans, informing about significant changes and problems that affect everybody will help keep the family unified. When we play together and pray together, we will be more inclined to stay together.
May the Lord help us build on the solid foundation and maintain a sweet and happy Christian home.