You and me can set out to create a culture of love in our homes, but just because that is our goal, doesn’t mean it is easy. In this post I want to share 5 ways to start to CREATE (action word) the culture of love. This is going to be an active process, not passive.
The good news is that as women, God has made us capable of creating an atmosphere in our homes. We are the thermostat, we set the temperture. I have certainly been in a terrible mood, snapping at people in my home and exuding grumpiness. The next thing I know, the kids are snapping at each other and everyone is grumpy.
But WE CAN create a culture of love. It is possible! It is the air our children, husband and friends breathe when they come into our homes. You can tell when you walk into a home what kind of atmosphere there is, it has a tangible feeling to it.
I am currently reading Sally and Sarah Clarkson’s book The Livegiving Home with some friends over on Facebook. We are chatting about each chapter of the book monthly, since the book is broken into chapter’s by month. If you haven’t joined the Lifegiving Home Challenge group, we would love to have you.
The February chapter has inspired this post and given me lots of ideas to share with you:
1. Bookend the Days with Love, Encouragement and a Special Greeting or Goodnight Blessing
In the Morning:
I have been practicing this for a little while. and I have seen a major difference in the way my kids interact with me. When I am really sleep deprived I seem to bark at the kids. If they were out of the bed before the magical “7:15” number (wake up time). I would say in a not so nice way, “Is it 7:15?!?”
But lately, I have remembered how important it is to start and end the day in a gentle and kind way. Instead of being greeted with grumpiness, best I can with some major help from Jesus, I am greeting the kids with, “Good Morning Sunshine! I love you!” and then maybe it is, “I am excited to see you, but I need you to go play in your room quietly until 7:15.”
Honestly, the way they have responded is so radically different. I am also trying to greet each kid with some sweet physical touch, like a sweet tight hug or a kiss on the head. This has been like glue sticking us together through the day. My 5 year old who is not snuggly as the other siblings has been crawling up in my lap lately just wanting to be close since I have started greeting him this way.
This is also a big reminder to me that my husband should certainly be greeted in a loving way, regardless of how many times the baby has been up or what time I went to bed. Tomorrow is not promised and so today truly is a gift with those we love.
I can usually give some sweetness to my kids at night. But on those extra long days where they are resisting bedtime, it is all I can do to not bark, “Go to bed!” And I certainly and still working on this, but finishing the day off with kindness is going a long way especially with my older two.
I have been tucking them in, chatting with them a bit, praying over them and giving some encouragement from how I saw Jesus working in their heart that day. Maybe it was them sharing a favorite toy, extending some forgiveness that was challenging to give or them confessing a sin that was bothering their conscious.
Matt and I have also noticed that they are taking this time to ask deep spiritual questions about death, heaven and salvation. My goal in parenting is not for them to have the best behavior, but to reach their hearts for Christ. I believe giving love morning and night bookends the day for a culture of love in our homes.
This love is the water on the seed of the gospel in their souls. We all need love from one another, so let’s give it lavishly morning and night.
2. Remove the Performance Mentality to Earn Love
One thing Matt has started asking the kids at night are these questions:
“Is there anything you can do to make me love you more?”
“Is there anything you can do to make me love you less?”
The question is no! And when we ask Jesus these questions, the answer is still no. His love for us is not based on performance. We can’t be good enough to ever reach up to God. No, instead we needed Jesus to come down to us, live the perfect life (because we can’t) and die for us. God’s love for us is based on Jesus’ performance, not mine.
Even if our children have not yet become a Christian, Jesus still loves them to same. Our identities change in Christ, but His love for us is unchanging.
Establishing this in our kid’s hearts helps them learn that there is no need for people pleasing to earn love.
Let’s create a culture of love based upon grace (a gift undeserved) vs. works (performance).
3. Saying, “I Am Sorry, Will You Please Forgive Me?”
Asking for forgiveness is one of the MOST powerful ways to create a culture of love in our homes. I think a parent leading the way is especially powerful. The restoration of relationships keeps all the cracks in our relationships from becoming deep chasms.
Conflict and sin are apart of every relationship. Teaching our kids healthy ways to handle conflicts is going to give them the tools they need to be emotionally healthy in their adult relationships. The goal isn’t to not have conflict, but rather healthy conflict.
As the momma, I having to apologize daily for the way I treat my kids. Either I yell, am snippy, impatient, cold or grumpy. Instead of thinking this behavior is ok or that I get a pass, because I am the adult. I need to be the person who leads the way and models humility.
“God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6
Sally writes this, “Peacemaking is a foundational practice to loving well.” I am also reminded that peacemaking isn’t the same thing as peace-faking. I do not want to teach my kids to say they are sorry for things the did not do, just for the sake of peace.
The words we take our kids through and that I personally use for asking for forgiveness is this:
“I was wrong for _______, will you please forgive me.”
Forgiveness may not always be granted initially or at all, but I have moved towards that person in the direction of peace.
Cultures of love are cultivated over time and striving for restoration as much as possible is a key ingredient.
4. Offering Encouragement and Affirmations Publicly
One thing we like to do when have meals together is to ask the kids, “What is one thing you love about brother or sister?” We will all go around and say one thing we love about that person.
It is one thing for me to privately encourage my kids, but when I do it in front of others they fill up with a different kind of love. A word of encouragement pubically is POWERFUL, just as a word of discouragement publicly is damaging.
This makes me think the parents of the young girls I used to coach in softball. They would yell at their kids, demeaning them and demand more excellence. I never saw a child raise their level of performance, effort or drive from those comments. The parents had forgotten that the sport was means to relationship. The child would respond in disrespect, anger or frustration.
I see the same in marriage relationships. Do we really think our husband’s will be changed one nagging comment at a time? And yet, I still try this strategy and wonder why it creates distance between Matt and I. Instead, when I praise Matt publicly I see him want to become a better man.
Words are so powerful, let’s use them privately and publicly to build up those we love, to create a culture of love.
5. Having Fun and Enjoying One Another
We can all be so busy and productive that we forget to slow down and just ENJOY one another. My husband officiated a young friend’s funeral recently. One thing that struck me from the death of our friend who was a young dad is that he really enjoyed his kids.
The slideshow before the funeral showed countless pictures of him enjoying his family. They had regularly built in rhythms of getting away and soaking each other up. My friend died a sudden and tragic death. All I could think of was wow, he really lived and enjoyed his people, even though he didn’t know his time was short.
Could we say the same? None of us know how long we have to enjoy the people we love. Would there be lots of photos and memories of us outside, doing puzzles, snuggling, eating together, hiking, swimming or playing some baseball in the yard?
Building a culture of love is working together, but also playing together. It is an investment of time, energy and love. This doesn’t happen overtime, but rather is a series of little deposits in the culture bank of our home.
If you feel like you don’t know where to start when it comes to building a culture of love, pick one of these 5 and ask Jesus for the help you need to carry it out.
Humbleness and grace are key ingredients to this goal, not perfection. So if you and me fail, which we surely surely will, I pray that we will ask for forgiveness and try again. The culture of our home is too important to be passive about, let’s actively start building a culture of love today!
Grateful you are here,
Here are some other Blog Posts that may be helpful to you in the pursuit of a peaceful home: