Time is so valuable and spending your time on family is an investment you’ll never regret.
I hope you guys have been enjoying our Keys to C.O.N.N.E.C.T. series, and learning some new tools to empower you in connecting with your families. So far, we have covered Communication and Openness, and today we will be talking about the importance of practicing New habits until they become Natural. That’s right folks, we’re pulling in both N’s for this one.
Practicing New Habits until they become Natural:
When we grow up, we learn all kinds of ways of doing things. Some of these ways are the right ways, and some are definitely the wrong ways, but many of them are just the way we do them – sort of neutral, if you will. Well, the person that you marry is coming into the relationship with the same type of programming, in that they were raised with lots of their own family traditions and ways of doing things that they’ve grown accustomed to over the years, and may assume are universal and natural for everyone. It is important when you come together to decide which of these things are going to work for you and the family you are building, as well as which entirely new traditions and habits you may want to introduce, and work hard at making these new things natural. It is important to protect each other’s hearts in this because it isn’t easy to just give up the way you’ve been doing things since you were a kid, so realizing that it can take time is important.
Justin, my husband, grew up in the south and I grew up in the north. He grew up Baptist and I grew up nondenominational. His parents were very strict about things like saying “yes ma’am” and “no sir”, and mine weren’t. None of those things were particularly right or wrong, but we needed to decide together what we were going to continue in our family.
When I was growing up, my brother’s only job was to take out the garbage. Since he was a boy, he didn’t really have to do anything “girly”, which made my sister and I furious, because we had more jobs to do. This is kind of silly, but without realizing it, I later unconsciously transferred both this responsibility and my attitude about it onto my husband. When the garbage wouldn’t get taken out, it would make me so angry because I would think, “It’s your only job, and you can’t just do it?!” This, of course, was not true at all! Justin didn’t understand why it would make me so mad when he would forget to take the garbage out, so it was something that we needed to communicate about. Since realizing the root of my frustration, there has been much more peace in our relationship. Now we just make the kids do it! Side note – at our house, everyone is expected to pitch in, and we try to avoid assigning jobs based on gender.
Just as practicing new positive habits you want to develop is critical, it is also very important to break off the bad ones! Just because your parents raised you a certain way does not mean that you have to carry that over to how you parent your kids. You hear it all the time – “I’m turning into my Mother!” or “I’m just like my Dad!” If you do nothing to recognize and move away from following negative examples, that is what will naturally occur. Unless your parents were serial killers or something, chances are there are at least a few positive elements of your childhood you want to incorporate into your parenting. However, even those of us who had great parents said at least once or twice during their childhood, “When I’m a parent, I’m never going to do that!” Despite our best intentions, unless we actively change, replicating our parents’ behaviors is what we will naturally fall into because it’s our de facto tool bag. Change is difficult because it requires a concerted effort from us. If you put the time in, it will be worth it.
Trying new things as a family is a great way to bond with each other. Don’t get stuck doing the same old same old. Put some effort into trying new foods together, playing new games together, and going to new places together. Memories are so precious and the more we make the more we’ll have. When you have young kids, there is often more planning and effort required, but time is so valuable and spending your time on family is an investment you’ll never regret.
If you have any stories of how you decided what practices get to cross over into your family from your past, I’d love to hear them! I know we all have them, so if this reminds you of an experience you’ve had please share! Also if you have any traditions that you’ve started that work well for your family let me know! We’re always looking to try new things.