God made us a family. We need one another. We love one another. We forgive one another. We work together. We play together. We worship together. Together we learn God’s Word. Together we grow in Christ. Together we love all people. Together we serve our God. Together we hope for Heaven. These are our goals. Help us obtain them, Father, through Jesus your Son, Our Lord.
I used to love reading the above prayer out loud with the family; reminding us all that God made us a Family. On the days I didn’t feel like our family was on the same page, my more mature self liked to point fingers at God, and silently accuse, “YOU did this!”
Being Off Balance
The third child in our family tipped the balance; it had become 2 parents versus 3 kids. Leaving the house worked out well enough with one parent carrying our baby girl, while the other parent held on to the older two’s hands.
Inside our house, however, we began to fall apart. My husband and I found ourselves at odds more often than not (though to be honest, that started months before). Our eldest (then 9) never knew what was going on, and so was frequently the target of our frustration when he wasn’t prepared for… well, whatever was going on. The baby developed colic for a couple of months. And our 2 year old really had no right to be so sweet and happy when the rest of us were drowning in stress.
We needed to get on the same page by sitting down together as a God-centered family (working on family expectations, etc.) in order to stabilize our Domestic Church. Not just for the sake of sanity, but for the sake of remembering to love.
Visualizing the Same Page
I found information about how sitting down together as a family and forming Family Expectations, etc. would foster a peaceful and productive home. So, I bought a huge tri-fold display board and taped several pages of our family “Beliefs” onto it. The purpose of this Belief Board was to have a visual of our rules, our responsibilities, our privileges, etc.
More importantly, it was a visual that reminded us to actively love and respect each other. A reminder that an organized family can make huge strides together in order to form a peaceful Domestic Church. Peaceful, meaning “not constantly at each other’s throats.”
Another strategy I learned about while researching the above advice: Family Meetings. This is an opportunity for everyone to share what is going on in their lives, upcoming events, major changes, etc. At the time, it was an invaluable tool that kept everyone on the same page. There was a lot less confusion, acting out, and even over-excitability during periods of change when the kids knew what to expect.
We haven’t displayed our Beliefs Board in years. We used to have a Family Meeting every week or two, then once a month, then we were lucky to all be in the same room at the same time once a month. I guess there was a point when we tipped over from mostly “organized” into mostly “full-frontal chaos”. Okay, so that actually happens every we bring home a new baby.
We’ve had to evolve the way we communicate and visualize our family values and goals as we’ve added to our numbers. To compensate for limited Family Meeting opportunities, we eventually moved on to displaying our schedules and upcoming events on The Board (our various wall calendars).
A Place to Start (or Improve) YOUR Domestic Church
I invite you to view the PDFs at the bottom of the page for full texts of what we put on our Belief Board when our family was smaller. Think about how you would like to modify them, and apply them to your family. I encourage displaying them as well, if you have the space.
Every day is a challenge to remember the importance of loving in times of hardship. We’re not exactly Zen around here, but years of working toward being on the same page has given us a foundation of stability.