All of us want strong families with well-adjusted kids. We mothers want to do the right things, say the right things, and create the right environment for this… I hope this post helps.
That was my daughter’s word for the vocabulary parade.
We loaded the four boys into the minivan to go to elementary school’s parade of words. Her grade and class were near the end so we waited a while until we saw her. All the boys sat down on the curb and waited and watched.
Then they saw her…
“Hey sissy!!!!!!” they all shouted. “Hey, sissy!!” They waved and smiled like she was a movie star on the red carpet.
Then my precious daughter looked at them all, beaming the biggest face altering smile, threw her hair back and her chin up and said, “Hey, boys!”
It was like one of the proudest moments of my life.
Why? Why was it the proudest moment? I didn’t know at the time. I couldn’t figure out why I had butterflies and eye flutters and I started hugging the kids nonstop (which is just as well since cuddling is good for their brains) and it was all too much for my bleeding heart.
Then I realized… I was so proud that they were proud of each other. So elated my daughter saw us all and did not just wave, but waved and smiled with her whole body.
I was so proud that my boys were so proud of their sister and that, without prompting, they waved and yelled and called to her. They looked at her with pride in their eyes and without insecurity.
It was all just a scene I may replay later in my old age.
How to Create a Family Your Kids Are Proud Of
So while we aren’t perfect and we’ll all make mistakes and we’ll embarrass our kids and they’ll embarrass us… I think there are a few key elements we can foster in our home that will create a family our kids are proud of.
Accept Your Kids for Who They Are
Our kids will not always do what we want them to do. We can’t take this personally because they are their own people. They like what they like and that’s okay.
Instead of trying to make our kids love what we love and be as “outgoing” or “smart” as their siblings (a good way to make them think you have a favorite even if you don’t) just accept them for who they are.
We can help our children overcome their struggles (like perfectionism, for example) without changing how God has made them. My uncle is a farmer and farmed his whole life with his father.
They had a son (my cousin) who is as cerebral as you can get. He reads tons of books and knows more facts than an encyclopedia and they could not be more different, but they have a good relationship.
They love each other.
They’ve found common interests in their differing personalities.
It can be done.
Be Okay When They Are Not Okay
Kids look for their parents to be anchors amidst turbulent seas. Life can be hard for them. They need us to be consistent in our actions, consistent in our words, and able to not take their actions so personally we explode and erupt.
They need us to be the ones in control of ourselves since they are still too young to be fully in control of themselves. Our kids will face storms and frustrations and difficulties, and they need us to be okay when they are not okay.
Children who know you are okay will feel safe. And when they feel safe, they feel at home.
Navigate Conflict Well
The most intense conflicts, if overcome, leave behind a sense of security and calm that is not easily disturbed. It is just these intense conflicts and their conflagration which are needed to produce valuable and lasting results. – Carl Jung
It’s just going to happen that everyone is at odds and people are acting crazy and kids are flailing limbs and refusing to eat what someone cooked and people go hungry and tired and angry. This is life as a family. Life as a human. The key to coming through conflicts stronger on the other side is learning to react and respond in a healthy way.
Healthy conflict looks like:
- letting someone else share their feelings (as long as it’s respectful and not backtalk)
- really listening and trying to understand what others think
- coming to a compromise, agreement, or agreeing to disagree in love
- having fair consequences that work better than anger or shaming
- not sweeping things under the rug because that does not work
Kids will feel safe when they can disagree with you, share their real feelings, and still be loved. This doesn’t mean you raise kids who are bratty and rude. In fact, it means the opposite.
Have Fun Together
Lately I’ve been thinking about something I like to call Family Branding. Loosely put, it means a set of actions, behaviors, or traditions that your family loves. Do you have regular family movie nights? Do you take nightly walks? Do you always eat croissants on Saturday mornings or have Taco Tuesday?
It doesn’t matter what it is. The fact is kids love traditions. They love knowing what’s coming, looking forward to exciting things, and they love having fun with you.
Kids long to be accepted and feel a part of something. When we make a habit of having fun with our kids and carrying on with them, they think family is fun.
When they think family is safe, they don’t act out in insecurity.
When they think family is fun, they don’t look for fun elsewhere.
When they think family is inclusive, they don’t need to look for acceptance elsewhere.