Home life can be more stressful than life outside. The people in the home know us so well, they can push our buttons, treat us with contempt, or even become enemies. All this when the people in the home are those we should love the most.
Some people don’t communicate. They excuse it because of other virtues, like bringing money into the home or doing chores. However, to be uncommunicative is not acceptable. Households need to develop safety so the hard things can be said and processed together.
The members of the house also need to develop and maintain communication skills. Schools might teach reading, writing and arithmetic, but they often rely on the home to teach social skills like effective communication. Taking turns in speaking, listening well, and accurately laying out emotions and opinions are essential skills for success in life. There is no embarrassment, if the skills are lacking, to look them up and start at any age. We can not expect progress if we do not know what we are aiming for.
Loving each other does not mean doing activities together or eating at the same time. It can include activities side-by-side, but it is more than that. Love is sacrifice. Love is giving of self for the development and good of another.
Gary Chapman has famously written of five ways people give and receive love. The family might talk about ways they like to love and be loved. The five ways Chapman lays out are quality time, acts of service, gifts, words of affirmation, and physical touch. How do you show you love the other members of your household?
Sometimes we love people but we don’t respect them. Within the household there is always a basis for respect based in human dignity. Particularly low respect shows when name-calling begins. Calling a person the names of animals like ‘dog’ or ‘cow’ shows we are in the process of dehumanizing them.
Constantly bringing to mind good conduct and mutual service in the past can help maintain healthy respect. Celebrating achievements without making achievements the essence of a persona’ value is a worthwhile but tricky goal. Everyone in the household has value. When do they feel most valued?
Leading the house in service, with no thought of reward is often the calling of parents. Having the heart of a servant means having the heart of a leader. Those who take the initiative to serve others in the home lead the home into mutual care-taking. Sometimes acts of service need to be talked about and appreciated. Catching children doing good encourages children to do more. Be careful not to cheapen the good actions by rewards like candy or late bedtime. The acts of kindness become self-serving in that environment.
Educate the children to understand and celebrate the internal satisfaction of serving others. What motivates you to do the dishes? Make a meal? Take out the trash? Communicate that to those who are learning from you.
These thoughts were taken from Colossians 3 where the home is centered around a strong father figure in Roman society. Paul wants Christians to be an example of love and harmony to their neghbours, so he addresses areas where families struggle.
Note, the slaves were members of the household and Paul recommends orderly conduct for them. He is not condoning slavery but recommending godly behavior in environments where household slaves are the norm.
Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.
Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.