The love that starts between spouses must overflow to the children, the extended family, and beyond.
What can we do, practically speaking, to take care of the great treasure that is our family?
The key is to strengthen it so that it will become a strong, luminous, and happy community, united in heart, purpose, and ideals. Here are seven tips that can help achieve this goal:
1Nourish your mutual love as parents and spouses
The greatest gift that parents can give their children is to love each other, in good times and in bad. Love is what gives a family strength. Children need many things, but one of the most fundamental is that they be able to nourish themselves from the love between their parents, which should fill the environment they live and breathe.
2Spend time on family life
The most basic foundation of our life is time, and if we don’t spend time on our family, we miss out on the profound joy of experiencing our mutual love with those who are closest to us.
Doing activities together and spending exclusive time with each other can make a huge difference in the emotional and psychological health of the family and of each of its members. For example, simply taking our children with us when we go shopping, or doing something special with them on their birthday, can be a simple but important activity. Time spent together as a family will never be forgotten, and its effects will last forever.
3Do good deeds together as a family
When we work together as a family to help other people and other families, it’s a win-win situation. Shared activities that require the sacrifice of time, and perhaps of other resources as well, help us to grow closer together. It’s an enriching way to live and grow as a family. It’s satisfying and enriching when each family member has a specific role in these activities, and discovers his or her own gifts and abilities that can put at the service of the community, yielding concrete positive results and creating a better world both outside and inside the home.
4Pray as a family
Making room for God in the family helps us grow in our faith, our hope and trust in God’s Providence, and our love for each other and for all people. There’s no problem we cannot deal with if we resort to God’s help and remember that we are not alone.
Parents are the spiritual leaders of the family, and should help the whole family to encounter God. Fathers and mothers take on different spiritual roles in different families, but as much as possible, they should work together as a team. For example, we can encourage the practice of praying before going to bed or saying grace before meals, or perhaps we can lead the family in singing a hymn or fun religious song at home, or even just take the kids out for a walk in nature to contemplate the beauty of God’s creation.
5Get involved with your extended family
Taking care of our immediate family is tied in with supporting our extended family. Organizing and participating in family events where grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins come together is an important way for us to share with each other and to strengthen healthy bonds. This can be more complicated when families live farther apart, but within our possibilities, it’s good to stay in touch and work together to provide a network of love and support for each other.
Knowing how to plan our time is very important. We need to ensure that the time we spend supporting our extended family doesn’t conflict with the needs of our own immediate family, without neglecting either.
6Take your family into account when scheduling your professional activities
Organizing our time is important so that we can make space for both our professional duties and family time. Including family activities, such as school events or sporting activities, in our daily calendar shows our loved ones that they matter to us. Today, more and more companies are recognizing that giving equal importance to family activity does not interfere with professional life. Rather, a good work-life balance improves the well-being of employees, allowing them to be better at what they do.
7Be leaders in your children's education
Taking care of our families means that we also need to be leaders in our children’s education, especially in important areas such as faith, values, and sex education. It’s important that we not leave this important role entirely to others, but rather that we be there to answer questions and doubts in the most opportune and complete way possible.
As parents, we can use the circumstances of life to teach our children proper values and criteria in due time, with appropriate language. We also need give them solid arguments why our values are for our good, and are not restrictive prohibitions, but rather affirmations of the true meaning love.
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