Building a thriving family relationship is like cultivating a delicate flower. It takes time, requires effort, and personal investment. Often, we believe that changes come from big actions or decisions. Oh, how wrong we are! The strength of a family is the sum of the small positive decisions and actions. These habits become embedded, resulting in an unconditional and selfless love. Author James Clear puts it this way, “Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement” a necessary truth on which to build thriving family relationships.
Let us look at three guiding principles which we need to develop to build strong family relationships.
The first principle is trust
“A relationship without trust is like a car without gas, you can stay in it all you want, but it won’t go anywhere,” Unknown. This is also true for business or personal partnerships. When there is openness, accountability, and transparency in our relationships, trust develops. Without it, there is no foundation on which to build. With it, great things can be accomplished. This is not a matter of technique, tricks, or tools but one of character. Trust enables family members to believe in each other.
Ernest Hemingway once said, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” Try it.
The second principle is commitment
The second habit in building a strong family relationship is commitment. This principle will protect each family member from the emotional and psychological damage that comes when relationships or partnerships face difficulties. Commitment in relationships does not mean losing or loving yourself less. However, what you have chosen to do is to treat others as they would appreciate being treated. When there is commitment each member to feels a sense of security. In committed family relationships members need to be fully aware of and embrace life’s obstacles. They provide invaluable opportunities for growth. The commitment we make to our relationships serves as an agreement and covenant to go the distance in the face of adversity. Think security! Think commitment.
Effective communication is the third principle
It is impossible to build strong family relationships without effective communication. A famous author once said, “We often assume that if someone’s lips are moving communication is taking place.” Communication comprises the giving and receiving of information – a two-way street. It is said that communication “involves more than just talking.” It involves the process of receiving or listening as well. To this process we should add a third dimension – understanding. Frequently we think we understand what our mates, spouse, or children are saying, but what we hear is not what is meant. We want the other person not only to listen to what we have to say but also to understand. To develop this third principle, we need to practice effective listening. We need to create a safe space where each party can be vulnerable with the other.
These three principles will only be developed when we choose to be intentional about growing our families. Try them in small dosages. The compound interest will be phenomenal. Your family and relational bonds will be strengthened.
“Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behaviour: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them…” Matthew 7:12 (MSG)
Heavenly Father, we submit our relationships to you. Transform our selfish hearts so we invest in our families. We want them to become what you intended, through your son’s name amen.