The Peaceful Family

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

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Article:  The Peaceful Family

What does a peaceful home look like, feel like, and sound like?  Is it a space where everyone feels comfortable and “at home”?  Do you hear laughing and see smiles?  Do you feel hugs as people arrive and kisses as people leave?  How about voices, are they calm and are words respectful?  Is conversation flowing?  Is it okay to be quiet and reflective? 

A peaceful home is a place of purpose; a place where good habits are thriving.  Family members have taken the time to identify, and strive to live by, their principles and values. Think respect, responsibility, cooperation, communication, patience, trust and love.  As adults, it’s important to remember we need to model the behavior we want to see.  For example, if we want our children to serve, bring them along to service projects you are involved with.  If you want them to be reflective, turn off the tv and take them on a walk in the woods.   Do it until it becomes a habit.  We are all a compilation of our good or bad habits.   A peaceful home is a place where all family members are striving to maintain good habits based on their principles and values.

So what about a home that doesn’t feel peaceful?  What does that home look like?  Is it a place where everyone is too busy to spend quality time or to invest in meaningful communication?  Do you see folks rushing around to manage dinner, check homework, clean up, do laundry, run errands, and then travel to soccer/dance/guitar class/tutoring?  Are the kids fighting while trash tv is blaring?  Is someone talking back?  Is Mom snapping at the kids, Dad snapping at Mom and do you hear name-calling and doors slamming?  Is anyone throwing things? 

Now, take a piece of paper.  Draw a long continuous line on your paper – on one end write words or draw pictures describing what you would find in a peaceful home (cooperation, open communication, mutual respect, trust).  On the other end of the line draw or write words describing what you might find in a home that’s not peaceful (physical fighting, doors slamming, cursing, name calling, shoving, competing).  What would you find in the middle?  If one end of the line is in harmony and the other is in conflict or disarray, what words or images do you see that may or may not be the healthiest behavior somewhere in the middle (screaming, eyes rolling, snide remarks, complaining, helping with laundry from time to time, saying I love you occasionally).  Now take a moment to reflect – where does your family spend most of their time?  Circle or mark that area of the line. Ask yourself, where would you like to be and how would you like to get there? 

Who here has a developed a family mission statement?  What is the mission of your family?  Have you set aside specific time to open lines of communication on a regular basis, write down your values and talk about the principles you’d like to incorporate into your life? If not, consider purchasing or making each person a talking/listening stick to be certain everyone has a chance to be heard.  Start the family meeting by allowing the entire family to create rules and set consequences for breaking those rules.  Write them down and post them. 

Next, bring in the calendar.  When is the best time for Mom and Dad to schedule regular date nights?  How about father/daughter and mother/son dinners?  Decide if Sundays will be considered family days where you will take time to recreate together as a family. These are a few of the things you need to think about in order to have a peaceful family.  Consider arranging family meetings on a regular basis to open lines of communication, create a family mission statement, develop rules and consequences and schedule quality time together.  Part two of this article will be published in a few weeks or you can find it online at warren.ces.ncsu.edu.

Article:  The Peaceful Family

Part Two              

So let’s say you’ve incorporated peace, open dialogue and the cooperative spirit into your family culture but now problems arise.  Do you go into full fledge conflict?  Get your dukes up?  Are verbal darts flying?  Or are you attempting to solve problems peacefully and purposefully?

“I’m not a baby!  I can stay out as long as I want to.”  Andrew was tired of his peers saying he was a goodie, goodie and the words just flew out of his mouth before he could catch them.  The neighborhood kids were aware his family didn’t allow him to stay out past 8:30 or 9 pm but were teasing him anyway.  Andrew distracted his peers by challenging them to another game of ‘night time hide and seek’ knowing there would be consequences later.   

When in conflict, recognize there are three components to anger:  physical, thinking, and behavior.  Your body physically reacts to your feelings, you may actually feel hot or tense when entering conflict.  Your thoughts will run rampant when you’re angry and you may opt to verbalize negatively by yelling or screaming.  Your behavior may be tempted to turn toward hitting or throwing things.  STOP!  Freeze in place, consider what may happen if you lose control versus what could happen if you remain calm; opt for taking a better path; plan on entering a conversation with an open mind but with some ideas on how you would like the ideal outcome to present itself.

“I’m so mad at that kid.  Where could he be?  He knows he is supposed to be in by 9 and I really don’t want to leave the other children to go find him.  I’ll give him a few more minutes.”  Andrew’s Dad was reaching the boiling point.  He wanted to yell and could feel his blood pressure rising. 

Before you react, ask yourself if you are about to make emotional withdrawals in your loved one’s emotional bank account.  Or can you choose a different path by making emotional deposits by listening, seeking first to understand before being understood, and trying to find a solution that works for all?  Is this problem something we can work through or are we going for broke and risking our relationship going into bankruptcy? 

“He’s finally home.”  Mom and Dad could hear the door closing.  “Do you know what time it is?”  They asked in unison.  Andrew knew he was in trouble by the sound of their voices.  He was ready to shut down and become defensive.  He wanted to tell them the boys were calling him a baby.  He also wanted to talk to his parents about a later curfew. 

First begin by attempting to define the real problem – is your child declaring her independence by staying out after curfew?  Listen to all sides – we can’t possibly know what it’s like to be a teen in 2011, the pressures and the stresses.  Remember, we have two eyes to see, two ears to hear – so listen.  Use “I” messages to express your feelings.  “I” messages are not threatening and can be effective in defusing a situation.  Brainstorm:  write down 20 possible solutions, even if they are crazy! Remember, when you are communicating, facial expressions, how we say words, tone of voice, style, and the words we use all matter. If someone is throwing out crazy ideas during your brainstorming session, keep yourself in check.  When I facilitate Parenting Matters, we take a situation or problem, brainstorm possible solutions and then go down each path to discuss the pros and cons.  If you are feeling flushed and thinking less than desirable thoughts, take some time to regroup.  Sixty minutes is preferred unless the conversation is taking place late at night.  Everyone may need a good night of rest to come up with workable solutions. 

“I was worried about you, son.  I am so accustomed to you being right on time, I really began to wonder if something had happened.  My imagination was getting the best of me.  Since it’s so late, let’s call it a night and have a conversation first thing in the morning.  I want to hear your side of things and if there are problems I am not aware of, I want us to come up with 20 possible solutions.”  The family turned out the lights without a conflict and had much to discuss in the morning.

For more on how you can create a Peaceful Home, please join Family & Consumer Sciences Agent Rachel Monteverdi at St. Michaels Catholic Church in Cary at 7 pm on March 24, 2011, or contact her at Cooperative Extension by phone at 252-257-3640.  Also see:  https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/fcs/Benke/fcs-521-03_web.pdf

Posted on Feb 9, 2011
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