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Family Reboot — When Your Family Needs a Fresh Start

My children and I recently went through a few weeks in which fighting and unkind words reigned. All relationships in our home were strained. Talking to my friends about how my kids were acting proved embarrassing. And I was disappointed in own parenting. After the kids went to sleep, I cried more nights than not. We reached a breaking point one evening, and I decided that we needed to get back to the basics. Somehow those had gotten lost in the chaos of our days. I gathered my kids (who are seven and almost eleven) for a family meeting. I told them that the current state of our family was not sustainable for a happy home. We needed a family reboot.

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The transformation in our home has been even better than I had hoped. What have I been doing? Let me share:

I make a point of acknowledging the behavior I want to see.

Never a fan of empty praise, I’m not one to exclaim, “Good job washing your hands!” to a child old enough to know what I expect him to do. I believe kids can see right through that. But I now say things like, “Thank you for not fighting with your sister for the entire car ride.” And, “I appreciate your saying thank you for the dinner I made tonight.” I want them to know I see their efforts specific to the changes we need as a family and that these efforts are appreciated.

I listen.

In the morning, our house is in a mad frenzy to get to the bus stop by 6:25am. And then I head out the door to the office. By the time I pick them up from aftercare, about three hours remain to finish any homework, eat dinner, play, and get ready for the next day. I’m trying to be more intentional and focused in how I use that time. Dinner is at the table with no distractions. I spend ten minutes alone with each kid at bedtime—just to talk about whatever they want. Whenever one of my kids says, “Mom, I need to tell you something,” I put down what I’m doing. And I get at their eye level. I see now that so much of the anger that had taken over my home stemmed from my children just wanting to be heard.

I say “no” more often to others.

The weekend after our trio reached its breaking point, I decided to decline any invitations we had for spending time with other people. Instead, we each picked one activity we wanted to do as a family. This meant that we got to make fudge, play Monopoly, and go for a hike. Not one fight or even a harsh word occurred for forty-eight hours. Just like married couples need to carve out time for their relationships, family members need those opportunities to just focus on how we operate and love one another as a unit.  

I say “no” to my kids more often.

Our house was never one run by the children and their every desire. However, I admit guilty for not always following through with consequences. I let slide some behaviors that needed addressing. Because I was too tired for the battle. Or because I made excuses for them. I often blamed myself. If I was a better mother, I thought, they would never act this way. How could I punish them when it really was all my fault?

I realized, however, by not disciplining and setting consistent and high expectations, I was abdicating one of my roles as the only adult in the house. And, as all of my teaching training and parenting books tell me, kids thrive in and want those defined boundaries. Since returning to focusing energy on telling my kids no—and holding firm in the fallout—our home has been calmer. And my kids are more appreciative when I say “yes.”

I give all three of us more grace.

It IS hard to raise two kids as a single parent. (Amend that. It is hard to raise kids. Period.) I need to let my guard down and acknowledge that. And, it IS hard for my kids to vie for my limited time while remaining in control of their emotions. But we are a team. My kids are old enough now for me to say, “I need fifteen minutes alone in my room to take some deep breaths and rest.” It is reasonable to expect for them to understand and respect that.

I’ll probably still lose my temper and yell once in a while. But that doesn’t mean I cannot resolve to do better tomorrow. And that’s fine. My kids will be disrespectful on occasion. We will have rough evenings—or even entire weekends. But always, always an abundance of love may be found in our family. And that will remain our foundation.

It was difficult for me to admit that my family had fallen far from where I wanted it to be. If you are walking through such a stage right now, I want you to know . . . it’s OK. And you are not alone.

Maybe every family needs a family reboot once in a while. Start today!

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One Response to Family Reboot — When Your Family Needs a Fresh Start

  1. Dana November 8, 2017 at 9:09 pm #

    Thank you. I needed this tonight. I’m listening.

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