Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Happier Family...

The past couple of days have been filled with sobering moments for me. I have things to reflect upon... things I need to do better in as a mother. This summer has been a really strange one for me in my life. For the first time in my life, I actually lived completely spontaneously and failed to plan at all. Somehow in all that spontaneity, lately I haven't spent enough time with my kids. A little spontaneity is great... but too much is just too much; some things need to be planned and not left out of living. I feel deeply humbled because I realize that the lack of nurturing and attention in our home lately has caused some friction and tension among family members that shouldn't have been here, and that had I been magnifying my calling as a mother – our recent family life would have been much happier.

With the recent tension and unhappiness in the house, yesterday and the day before, I began to glance through a pamphlet about 3 simple ways to become a happier family. As I glanced through that little booklet a couple of ideas stood out in my mind: spending one on one time with family members, and showing love in ways that are recognizable to the ones you love (we don’t all recognize love, or feel loved by the same actions - I wish I had realized this years ago).

In addition to reading and thinking about what I need to do for my family, my husband and I also began to pray individually and together about our children and how to help with the recent relationship struggles and behavior issues we were seeing. We were praying for our oldest son especially, as he had been very angry and sad the past couple of days, (though he seems to be very unaware of his behavior).  It really excited me that we both quickly received the same answer - loud and clear - that what our kids need is one on one time.

Later that day (yesterday) the same contention that had been in our home prevailed. The same son already mentioned was still struggling severely as he had the past couple of days. He called names, he complained, he said he thought we all wanted him to be miserable and that his family was ruining his life etc. It was really tough. I could see that he actually meant and believed what he was saying and wished intently that I could help him to realize that what he was saying wasn’t true. I wished that he could know and feel how much he really is loved, and know that his family really does want him to be happy.

I had compassion on him, but still did what I thought needed to be done – I grounded him from his friends for the day hoping to help him to notice his behavior and try to treat his family better. At one point, he sat in a chair… in tears and very upset… as he talked about how family members were trying to make him angry (his perception, which I disagree with) and about his frustration over being the only one punished. I encouraged him to consider his own actions and what is right, even if he thinks others are being mean to him. I think I failed to validate his feelings, worrying too much about trying to teach him to be accountable for his own actions and not rationalize. But I did care. I sat on the floor at his feet… wishing I could wrap my arms around him and comfort him, but knowing that he was still very angry at me and didn’t want to be touched by me. I would only touch him as much as he would allow… just a little on his feet. All these thoughts and feelings were going through me. I wanted to help so badly, but felt powerless.

And then I realized what was happening. I was trying to discipline / teach him… with love yes, but in a way that HE could not feel my love. The gentle touch which was allowed by him was good; I know that when I touch him, somehow he feels my love. But the words were not getting through. As I sat listening to my son, and saw him cry, my view began to change from seeing a stubborn and guilty boy, to seeing a boy who was kind and good, and hurting too much to see his own behavior. I then remembered the ideas in that little pamphlet; *one on one time, and *showing love in a way that HE recognizes.

I had been sitting on the floor at his feet, telling him with words that I loved him, and that I cared. I disciplined with love in my heart. But it wasn't enough.

The dilemma I faced was that I was trying to show him I love him by telling him with words; even though WORDS do NOT tell HIM that he is loved the way they tell me, that I am loved. Though I thought I showed him that I love him, through discipline and words, neither register fully as actions of love to him. The problem was not what I was doing... the problem was – I wasn’t doing what HE needed me to do for HIM to feel loved.

I knew I could not take away consequences to his actions. But if he didn't feel loved - that discipline was going to do absolutely no good. He would be angry at me instead of being reflective about his actions. He first and foremost needed to feel loved. He needed to feel understood... to have his feelings validated. And, I had been too busy lately; I hadn’t given him the time that he needed to feel loved.

***So I told him I felt that he needed a break... some fun, and asked him where he wanted to go and what he wanted to do. His then dejected facial expression lifted up from the floor to look at me, and out spilled the sweetest sound of "really?" in shocking delight. There was a glimmer of hope and relief in his eyes, and I could see that the thick wall between us had quickly begun crumbling down. I asked him where he wanted to go. He didn't know; I grabbed my purse and assured him we would figure it out.

As we drove down the road together I made several suggestions; he made the final choice. I even got him a pineapple shake because shakes are what he loves (I secretly cringe each time I buy one for one of the kids… which is seldom because of the price; I never buy them for myself... EVER). We sat and ate together and talked. I knew he finally felt loved. I finally did something, just for him, something that he enjoyed, so he would know that he was on my mind and in my heart and that I really do care about him. And you know... his emotions just settled so nicely. :) He is happy again; he is kind again. It is absolutely amazing what a little RECOGNIZABLE love can do.

I made a good dinner and we ate together as a family again. Afterwards, we read from the scriptures together. But it took a long time to get around to reading the scriptures because everyone was laughing and joking (mostly Dausen… the comedian, who joked about needing to be naughty like his brother so I would take him out for a burger and a shake… I assured him that he was next – without having to be naughty! ;)). We all carried on with silly and fun conversation. We hadn’t been eating or reading together lately, and we were enjoying making up for it (we also committed to getting back to doing these things daily again!).

After dinner, we broke up into groups of two like we used to (a weekly event) for one on one time together. This way, even the kids get time with each other to strengthen their relationships with each other as well as with each parent.

The night ended peacefully and still today everything feels different – our home has a feeling of peace and love again. Thanks to a few minor adjustments with the routine of daily (and weekly) living, I'm sure my family is going to be just fine. Thanks to the gospel of Jesus Christ, there is a undeniable increase in the happiness and peace among family members again.

I am so thankful!!! :D

…Wishing you happy and loving days, too.
Corine :D


  1. I was praying the entire I was reading this it had a good ending. Though I do not have children I do understand they all need a one on one. I'm so thankful you found the time. I was just about to suggest cooking together. We always had fun in the kitchen.

    Wonderful post. :D Prayers are answered, we just have to ask.
    Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  2. It is such an amazing thing to have that one on one time with someone - to really communicate love and compassion.

  3. i am so glad i had some extra time today and came upon this post! i needed this reminder DESPERATELY. thank you thank you thank you!!!!!


  4. Thanks for your comments, gals. :) Due to the nature of the reason it came about... it is good to know that it was appreciated by others; ...sincere thanks! :D Corine

  5. What a beautiful story! I can always tell in my children's behavior when I'm not spending enough time with them (not just in the same house, but WITH them). Thanks for the reminder!

    Thanks for your comment on MMB this morning!

  6. Great reminder, and food for thought about my actions (kids and hubby). Reminds me of a book I have used through the years with my 5 kids and fam--("I Don't Have to Make Everything All Better"). So simple--a shake and time and validating. thanks, I needed reminding :)

  7. Amy - You're welcome... and THANK YOU! I hope to see you again. :)

    Deila - Thank YOU for the reminder that I don't have to make everything all better! ;O Please come back again. :)

  8. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I loved reading how it all evolved. Really valuable to read.

  9. What a beautiful photo! I love hearing your words!

  10. That Crazy Family - You can't imagine how much I appreciate your comment. Thank you. Corine :D


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