Q: I've built a pretty successful career in the corporate world, but I've recently recognized that I don't interact with my wife and children nearly as well as I do my employees. I want to lead my family even better than I do my business, yet I feel stuck. Do you have any advice for taking what I do best and applying that at home?
Jim: I applaud your motivation, and I think I can draw a parallel for you. When our organization's board of directors meets, we take conversations about our budget, accomplishments and future endeavors very seriously. To make good choices about where we want to go, we have to have an accurate picture of where we've been, and where we currently stand.
As parents, it's helpful to think of ourselves as CEOs of our own family business and to chart a course through life with the same diligence. This applies to practical decisions we face each day -- we have to pay bills, keep gas in the car, buy groceries and get the laundry done. But we also need to be attentive to the larger strategic elements of our family, like the spiritual, emotional and relational aspects of life.
As a starting place, a husband and wife ought to have honest conversations with each other about the strengths and weaknesses of their marriage. If your children are old enough, I recommend you have regular household meetings as well. It's important for each family member to have an opportunity to discuss everything from chores and homework and curfews, to how well relationships within the family are doing. This allows your children to feel included in matters that impact them, and it teaches them to resolve conflict in a healthy manner. You're still "the boss," but you're involving them in the decision-making process.
For more suggestions and tips for helping your family thrive, see focusonthefamily.com.
Q: How can I help my young daughter develop healthy friendships? I know how easy it can be for kids to make the wrong kinds of friends or to establish connections with others for the wrong reasons. What can I do to provide some helpful guidance in this area?
Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: Parents play a crucial role in teaching children how to develop and maintain healthy friendships. Often this happens unconsciously, but it helps if Mom and Dad can find ways to be intentional about it.
The first step is to guide your child in the development of strong positive virtues. In other words, you have to begin by helping her become the kind of person who can be a good friend. By modeling and discussing these virtues, you can protect your daughter from many of the heartaches that result from unwise associations. Some of the most important qualities you can build into her character include honesty, loyalty, respect, compassion and acceptance.
The second step is to build your child's confidence. A healthy self-esteem increases the likelihood that she will make wise choices about the connections she forms with others. You can build her confidence by affirming her strengths and congratulating her when she does something well. Spending time with her on an individual basis communicates the message that you value her as a person and enjoy her company.
You can also enhance the process of meeting new people by involving your child in socially interactive activities, such as sports or music. And you can encourage friendships by throwing parties or inviting her friends over for dinner -- say, a different child over every other week.
Making friends can be a challenge for any of us at any age, but it's facilitated by remembering the classic Golden Rule: "Treat others the way you want them to treat you."
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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