What kind of family do I want to have?
Don’t we as parents dream of having a family that is always close? The kind of close that makes the millions of miles that may separate us insignificant?
It’s the family we all want to be. When the kids are all grown up and out of the house, we want get togethers to be spontaneous and fun. We want our children to laugh together around the dinner table while we can hear the grandkids being silly in the other room. We want conversations that last into the night about faith and love and what this life is all about. Don’t we all long for this kind of closeness. Some search for it all their lives. It is our hearts greatest desire. It could also be our biggest regret, when time passes and the family we have become does not reflect the family we have always imagined.
The question I have been asking myself lately is how do we get there from here? What does it take to become who I want to be? What will it take to have a closeness with my children years from now?
This time of year is full of all kinds of advice and how to’s and goal setting. Even the definition of a resolution hints that it is only a good intention. But good intentions are not enough.
How did I get to where I am today? What has made me the person I already am? The past shapes the present. I can’t expect things to be different suddenly now if that isn’t the way it has always been.
But surely I’m not just a piece of driftwood thrown about by an angry ocean. Surely I must have some control over how my future turns out. The decisions I have made have brought me to where I am now, so I must make the right decisions over time to become the person I want to be.
“What gets to inform the decisions you make today?”
I believe that what we value, not what we say we value, but what we truly value is what informs our decisions on a daily basis. Moment by moment. Consciously or not. The snap judgements, actions, attitudes we have are all shaped by what our hearts value.
So I have been thinking a lot lately about what kind of family I want to have, and what things I should value that will help us become that kind of family. I have a list of five values so far.
What it means to be a insert last name here:
Honesty to me means having integrity. It means speaking words that are true. It means being open about who we really are with each other. As Jason Locy and Tim Willard put it, it’s saying the ‘unsaid’ to each other.
Then, if we are to be honest with each other, it is important that the we are quick to forgive. To forgive even when we’ve been hurt. To work at forgiving even when it is hard.
Generosity is doing what’s best for someone else. Being giving of your self, of your time, of your resources. Looking for needs that you can meet, and then giving what you can to meet them. Putting your wants after others’ needs and not expecting anything in return.
Kindness speaks to the gentle attitude we should have toward each other. Being patient, polite and courteous. Treating others with respect.
It’s a list in progress. Obviously there are dozens of great virtues I want to instill in my kids. But I want to keep this list as short as possible so that it is easy to remember and focus on. I’ll probably add some as time goes on and the relationships we have with each other grow and develop. I look forward to the day when one of my kids might come to me with a suggestion for another virtue they would like to add to our list of family values. And if these values are on my mind every day, I hope my decisions will be shaped by them. And that we will become the family I’ve always wanted.
What values do you hold dear? Do you have a list for your family? What would you add/delete from this list? I’d love to hear your suggestions.