Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. ~ Philippians 4:8-9, MSG
It wasn’t our first argument, but I remember it clearly. We were driving the back-way to get from our house to town. I don’t remember exactly where we were going at the time, perhaps grocery shopping, out to eat, or to a friends’ house. The topic was pets. Specifically, whether or not , when we finally had a property with land, dogs would be allowed free range or still have to be contained. I was on the side of having the dogs contained, he of the opinion that there is plenty of space for a dog to run around and therefore there does not need to be a fence. This argument became heated quickly, and I went into full blown crazy. I started yelling and screaming and told him to take me home. And he let me. He drove calmly as I threw my royal three-year-old tantrum. I finally wore myself out. His simply stated “are you done?” Long pause from me, “Yes.” “Do you want Ice-cream?” Shorter pause, “Yes.” The end.
Who is this person I married? I wondered. He doesn’t even know how to fight properly. You are supposed to yell and scream and one person leaves while the other locks themselves in the bedroom. That is how a fight is supposed to happen.
When counseling couples, I often talk of their family cultures. How, even if they grow up next to each other, they come from a different culture. Some families are matriarchal, while others are patriarchal. In some families extended members are part of the immediate family, in others there is little contact with extended family.
The good news is that as a parent you get to change your family culture! You don’t have to keep the same patterns that your family had growing up (unless your growing up was awesome, then keep that culture moving!). You get to teach your children communication, priorities, faith, education, finances and on and on.
The first step to changing your family culture. Is to choose one thing and start. There are a myriad of articles out there on sitting down for meals, setting family rules, having time together with the kids, how to be a good mom, good dad, good aunt. It can be overwhelming. So choose one small thing, and start. You don’t have to be super mom, you don’t have to change everything in a matter of a week. One small change at a time will make a big difference.
My prayer for you: Father, help those reading this today to identify one small change they can make in their family to build a home that represents you to those around them. Help them find peace in imperfection and hope that with time you create masterpieces from our broken pieces. Amen.