Photo by Brayan Espitia on Unsplash
Photo by Brayan Espitia on Unsplash

7 Keys to Building Strong Families: Conclusion

“In a country supposedly bent on the pursuit of excellence, it's ironic that we often settle for ‘fair’–even ‘poor’ when it comes to the family. If half our major businesses or schools failed, we'd be in a panic. But when half of all first marriages end in divorce, too many of us accept it as some sort of scheduled stopover on the flight to fulfillment.” -Columnist Robert S. Welch

As executive director of the Center for Healthy Relationships at John Brown University and I've had the opportunity to meet with pastors, counselors, and community leaders and hear of their concern for and a commitment to building stronger marriages and families here in Northwest Arkansas.

I think that most people value their family relationships and want to have a healthy and happy home. With that desire in mind I've shared with you what I consider to be seven “keys” to building strong families. In case you missed one of them here they are one more time:

  1. What your kids see you do as they grow up is what you'll likely see them do when they've grown up.
  2. Healthy parents don't find time, they make time.
  3. Healthy parents know how to say “I Love You” in more than one way.
  4. A healthy home cultivates an encouraging environment.
  5. A healthy home is where people express anger in healthy ways.
  6. A healthy home is where people make time to listen, ask questions and nurture quality communication.
  7. In a healthy home, members understand the value of constructive conflict.

I hope that reading my articles has reminded you that while great marriages and families are possible, they don't just happen. Healthy relationships take time, effort, energy, and intentional focus. When it comes to building strong and healthy relationships it's easier said than done. Many of us suffer from the tyranny of good intentions. We mean to do well, we want to take time but somehow we allow other things to crowd it out. We become anesthetized by our busyness.

Some have said that life is what happens while we are getting ready for tomorrow. In Luke 16 Jesus said that the person who is faithful in the little things will be faithful in the big things. I have several friends who have coached sports at the university level and played as professionals. One of the things they constantly emphasize is the importance of the basics. The fundamentals.

Several years ago I saw an advertisement for a course by Claude W. Olney that could help students get better grades. Several television celebrities were interviewed and shared how it helped their children significantly increase their school performance. As I read through the parents' manual I found a tool that I have found helpful for evaluating my performance as a parent and, in my last article, I'd like to share it with you.

A Report Card For Parents

ABCDF1. Do I praise my child at least once a day?
ABCDF2. Do I treat my child as a worthwhile member of our family?
ABCDF3. Am I available when my child wishes to talk to me?
ABCDF4. Do I include my child in family plans and decisions?
ABCDF5. Do I set reasonable guidelines and insist that my child follow them?
ABCDF6. Do I treat my child the way I treat my best friends?
ABCDF7. Do I treat my children equally?
ABCDF8. If I tell my child to do something, do I frequently take the time to help them understand why instead of saying: “because I said so!”?
ABCDF9. Do I set a good example for my child?
ABCDF10. Do I think positive thoughts about my child and encourage achievements?
ABCDF11. Do I take an interest in my child's education and attend PTA meetings?
ABCDF12. Do I occasionally give my child a hug or friendly pat on the back?
ABCDF13. Do I encourage attendance at weekly religious services?
ABCDF14. Do I spend time each day looking over my child's school work with him?
ABCDF15. Do I send my child off to school each day with a kind word of encouragement?
ABCDF16. Does my child see me pray?
ABCDF17. Does my child see me reading the Bible?
ABCDF18. Does my child hear me apologize when I am wrong?
ABCDF19. Do I talk to my child about my emotions?

How did you do? Did this help you identify any areas in which you can make an improvement? As you read through this you probably noticed that several of the questions also apply to a marriage relationship. Are there one or two things you could do for your spouse that would help you get a “better grade?”

God designed us to be in relationship with others. God wants those relationships to be rich, rewarding and fulfilling. God invented marriages and families. What you may find hard to do on your own, you will find easier with His help. Many local churches have special programs on marriages and families that you would find enjoyable and helpful. I hope you'll contact your local Bible-teaching church and take advantage of what they have to offer.

I hope these articles have given you some encouragement, some practical suggestions and a reminder of the significant resources you can find in the Bible to help you strengthen your important relationships.

Gary J. Oliver, ThM, PhD
Executive Director at Center for Healthy Relationships | + posts

Dr. Oliver is the Executive Director of The Center for Healthy Relationships, and professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University.  He has authored over 20 books and more than 350 professional and popular articles.  Dr. Oliver has over 40 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage  & Family Therapist and Spiritual Director.  He leads seminars & workshops both nationally and internationally on a variety of counseling-related issues, healthy relationships as well as Emotional & Relational Intelligence (ERI).

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