Last year, I spent two months in bed after hurting my back. When I went to physical therapy, one of the first things my therapist said was, “We have to strengthen your core muscles.” She told me my abdominal muscles had been “dormant.” After recovering from that comment, I began to understand that having weak core muscles creates a host of problems. However, when core muscles are strong, they make a body stable everywhere. Since then, I have exercised my core consistently, and I’ve noticed that when I take a day off, my problems come back.
As dads, there are core things we can do that produce a strong family and we need to practice those things consistently. When we do, we create a loving and stable environment, but when we get out of practice, problems start to show up. Here are 9 essential principles for developing a strong family.
1. Love your kids unconditionally.
Your kids need to know that your love is not based on their performance. They are going to be barraged by the world’s message that their value is based on their success in the classroom, on the athletic field, and on how they look. Your love goes a long way in disproving this lie. Your love needs to be reinforced daily.Your kids need to know that your love is not based on their performance.
2. Go where your kids are.
Spending time in your children’s world will help you understand them more. It will increase your ability to speak their language. They will also feel cared for in the process. My dad traveled a lot when I was in high school. However, when he was in town, he came to my practices to watch me. It made a huge difference.
3. Team up with Mom.
Two is better than one. Talking, brainstorming, and strategizing with your child’s mom will sharpen you in the process. It will bring a perspective different from yours, eliminating potential blind spots.
4. Build a relationship with your child.
Initiate one-on-one time with each of your kids. Take them out to dinner or dessert, or simply sit in their rooms and talk. Ask questions. Teenagers may resist, but don’t get discouraged—keep initiating.
5. Provide experiences that are fun and filled with adventure.
Creating these experiences will help you bond. It will also teach your kids that life is an adventure and it will show them constructive ways to live it.
6. Share your life.
You have experience and knowledge. There are mistakes you have made that you regret. You have accomplishments and qualities of character that have been recognized. Be willing to speak and be vulnerable with them. Again, they may resist, but they’re listening—and they’re getting more out of it than you know.
7. Nurture their gifts.
Each child has talents that are unique. Help your kids identify the things they do well and invest in those things. Help your children develop their gifts and encourage hard work without pressure.
Get behind them and be their cheerleader.
9. Pray for your child.
God created your child and knows his or her needs even more than you. Even if you are not a person of tremendous faith, this is still a good exercise. It will allow you to give careful thought to your child, which will bring revelation and wisdom.
Sound off: What are some other principles for building a strong family?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you think makes a family strong?”