What does a healthy family look like and act like? Often times we believe the lie that we have to be perfect and have it all together. Perfection doesn't equal healthy family. Having it all together doesn't mean your family is flourishing. Cultivating a home where both the parents and kids are thriving is a lot more practical. It’s messy, authentic, and vulnerable.
There are four signs to be looking for when gaging the health of your family life: Does everyone feel known? Do they know that they have a voice? Are they able to express all of their emotions, even the painful ones? Is love abounding in the home?
We want to dive into these four topics a little more.
1. Everyone feels known and accepted.
In a healthy home everyone feels understood and knows that they are allowed to express who they are without any hindrances. There isn’t personality traits or characteristics that are better or worse. There isn’t competition, striving, and performance to be loved. Everyone has a special place in the home.
Everyone is invited to wear their hearts on their sleeve. You can’t feel known if you aren’t allowed to express all of your emotions. Creating a home where every emotion is allowed whether it be a good one or a bad one will allow a space for everyone to feel heard. Everyone will feel understood, and they will know that they have a place where they belong even in their pain.
No matter what anyone is thinking or feeling they are always going to be known. Nobody has to hide when they are feeling angry, depressed, frustrated, or anxious. There is no shame or condemnation. Home is the safest place for our families to come into. When every emotion is allowed to be felt, addressed, and handled in a healthy way everyone will begin to feel known and understood.
2. Everyone knows they have a voice.
This means that it isn't only the parents who have the voice and the say in the home. You don't want to diminish your children's voices but rather teach them that everything that they say and do is so powerful. It isn't about silencing them, it’s about teaching them. Everything that flows from their mouth is powerful and you want them to know how to use their words rightly. You want them to understand that their words can bring forth life.
When they know that they can have a voice and that their voice is powerful they will begin to express themselves in authentic and creative ways. They will dream, write, and give to this world from what God has gifted them to offer.
Your children can hear from God no matter what their age is. Teach them that everything that they say will offer the world either life or death. From early on you want them to understand that they have the opportunity to hear Gods voice and speak out truth and watch beautiful things take form with their words.
3. Everyone prioritizes vulnerability.
Create a home centered around vulnerability. This means that every relationship values intimacy, meaning “into-me-you-see”. You can’t have intimacy without vulnerability. To allow someone in to see all of you is extremely vulnerable and it’s through that process that we foster intimate relationships. This is with your spouse and with your children. Allow your family to see you on the good days and the bad days. When our children see you walk through stress, turn to Jesus, and overcome they will have a framework for how to handle their own stress because they watched you first. When they see you walk through a trial season keeping your eyes locked on Jesus they will do the same. Or maybe you make a big mistake, mess up big time, and your kids see it. What do they learn? It’s okay not to be perfect, it’s okay to make mistakes, it’s okay to have questions.
There is no stuffing and hiding. Everything is out in the open and everyone in the family is able to support, encourage, and lift each other up through thick and thin. Vulnerability is the best thing you can teach your children about. When you choose to express rather than stuff you rid yourselves of the temptation to numb out with substances, addiction, and bad habits. You get to walk in the freedom that Jesus paid a price for.
4. Love is abounding.
Love is overflowing in the home. Everyone has their cups full of love from one another.
Philippians 1:9-10 “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ”
It is only going to be through love that your children grow up knowing who they are and what God has in store for them. They need to be introduced to God’s everlasting and unconditional love and they also need to be invited into your overflowing love for them.
It is only through love that Christ will be cultivated in your home. Your kids won’t turn out the way you desire through controlling them, raising your voice, and handing out demands. It will be through love! When their is love in your home your kids will be able to take that out into the world and have the capacity to give from what they have received.
Your kids long to be loved! Find out which specific ways your children individually receive love the best. Whether that be physical touch, quality time, acts of service, or words of affirmation. Meet these needs in small intentional ways each day. This might look like a snuggle and story before bed, driving them to their sports game and cheering them on, or making them dinner after a long day at work. It’s not about the quantity of time you spend with each child, it’s about the quality of the time you give them. Turn off the television, put your phone down, and let love abound.