Frankly, I wish it happened more often, but occasionally a young father will come to me wanting to know how to be a better husband or father. One thing they specifically ask is how to take advantage of the time they have with their family and to be more effective with that time. As it seems all our time is so valuable, with the many distractions busy families face, wise parents realize the need to make the best use of the time they have together.
Here are 5 suggestions to make family time more effective:
Begin with a plan for your home and each child – You seldom hit a target you aren’t aiming to hit. Just as adults may have a plan for their career or finances, parents need a plan for operating their home. It may help if it is written, but should definitely summarize the major goals you hope to accomplish in your home. Because each child is different, I also believe parents should have different plans for each child. Ask yourself:
- What do we want our children to be like some day?
- What kind of people do we want them to be?
- What should their character be like?
- How can we best encourage them to get there?
You’ll find your family time more effective when you have a plan, because it will consciously and unconsciously help focus your attention and energies on the things that matter most when you are together.
Major on the majors, not on the minors – Children don’t need to be burdened with a lot of rules. It weighs them down trying to stay within the lines. Some things matter and some things don’t. Figure out the non-negotiables and primarily concentrate on them. I tend to lean towards character issues as majors and individual preferences as minors. You’ll choose what these are for your home, but everything shouldn’t be major…unless, at the extreme, you want to produce a stressed-out, perfectionist child, who always seem to struggle to meet other people’s expectations of them.
Make the guidelines in your home easy to figure out – There does need to be rules. Children need guidelines to follow, especially those that focus on the major things you want to accomplish in them, but also simple rules that make the home work effectively. Talk about the rules you have for your home and be sure to tell the children the why behind those rules, as much as they can understand. Be consistent in carrying out the rules in the home, in a firm, but loving way. Children shouldn’t have to guess how you’ll respond to an issue. As children learn your heart and ways, they can better trust you, which will help them enjoy themselves around you and rely on you for your wisdom and input as they get older.
Be purposeful – I’ve never seen effective parenting accomplished much in front of the television. (Ouch!) If you want more effective family time, take advantage of the time you do have and be intentional, implementing the plan you have for your family. Children won’t always be available to you, especially as they get older. As much as you can, to be an effective parent, always strive to be available to them. Look for teaching moments as they are presented and keep your desired outcomes in mind as you parent.
Surround everything with grace and love – Give multiple chances and forgive easily. I tried to remember that I’m modeling Christ for my children. Much of their understanding of Christ comes from their relationship to their earthly father (and mother). I’ve been given so much grace…shouldn’t my children reap the benefit?
Obviously these are just suggestions. Implementing them in your home will be different than it was in my home, because you are different and your children are different. Thinking through your parenting in a more systematic, intentional way will make you a better parent and help your time as a family be more effective.
What are some suggestions you have for making family time more effective?