How very good and pleasant it is
when kindred live together in unity!
- Psalm 133:1
The larger teddy bear above (named "Oatmeal") was given by Carol Fink to her father for something to hold on to during his battle with cancer. She found the smaller one later for herself and thought of it as "Oatmeal's daughter." Both bears now stay with her as a reminder of her treasured relationship with her dad.There's nothing like family. The people closest to us in our tight web of familial relationships are often our greatest sources of love and support. And for many, one of the unexpected benefits of this Coronavirus crisis has been the rediscovery of "family time" - time spent with loved ones making and sharing meals together, ... playing games, ... doing puzzles, ... binge-watching shows, ... going for walks - things they always wanted and meant to do, but somehow always got put off due to the daily rush of life.But for other families (with the loss of loved ones, ... the inability to see family members they don't live with, ... the uncertain job security and loss of income, ... the day after day of hunkering down together, ... the disagreements over the importance of safety precautions and level of social distancing), this time has created tremendous stress on their family dynamics.So for the care and strengthening all family ties, I share these "tips" that I recently read in an article:
- Take care of your health if you hope to take care of anyone else. The more demanding of your time your family is, the more you need to fit in exercise. Perhaps you and your family can seek out ways to exercise together.
- Listen if you expect to be heard. Lack of communication is the loudest complaint in most families. The answer to “Why won’t they listen to me?” may be simply “You’re not listening to them.”
- Teach emotional choice. Manage your moods by letting all feelings be OK, but not all behaviors. Model behavior that respects and encourages the feelings and rights of others yet make it clear that we have a choice about what to do with what we feel.
- Teach generosity by receiving as well as giving. Giving and receiving are parts of the same loving continuum. If we don’t give, we find it hard to receive, and if we can’t receive, we don’t really have much to give. This is why selflessness carried to extremes is of little benefits to others.
- Take responsibility for what you communicate silently. The very young and old are especially sensitive to nonverbal cues. More than our words, tone of voice, posture (body language), and facial expressions convey our feelings. We have to listen to our tone of voice and look at ourselves in pictures and in the mirror to assess our emotional congruency. Loving words coming through clenched teeth don’t feel loving—they feel confusing.
- Don’t try to solve problems for your loved ones. Caring for your family doesn’t mean taking charge of their problems, giving unsolicited advice, or protecting them from their own emotions. Let them know their own strengths and allow them to ask you for what they need.
- Make a lasting impression through actions. Your values will be communicated by your actions, no matter what you say. Be an example, not a nag.
- Acknowledge your errors to everyone, including younger family members. Saying you’re sorry when you hurt someone you love, models humility and emotional integrity. You can demonstrate that no one is perfect, but everyone can learn at any age. Apologizing proves you can forgive yourself and makes it easier to forgive others.
- Discover what each person’s unique needs are. You can’t assume that your grandmother needs the same signs of love as your three-year-old or that either one will have the same needs next year. When in doubt, ask!
- Be generous in expressing love. Everyone in a family (especially young children) needs the emotional reassurance of loving words, gestures, and looks. Those who demand the least emotional attention may need it most.
- Jeanne Segal, PhD
As the Bible says, it truly is a very good and pleasant thing when kindred live together in unity. So during this crazy and confusing time, may God be with you and your family - that these treasured relationships may be for you a wonderful source of love and support.
-- Pastor Micah