I have often written about the importance of relationships in parenting. It is important that one works on building and maintaining these relationships. This week there is a lot of talk in the press and on the radio about building and repairing relationships within our community. This is a long overdue initiative and I fully support it. But I believe the work should start within the family. People make up communities, and people come from families. If families are producing children that are dysfunctional, then try as we like the community (and country) will be dysfunctional too.
The strength of any community or country will only be as strong as the relationships within the family. It takes one bad relationship or bad attitude to destroy a family. It is with this in mind that as parents we need to realise it is our responsibility to ensure the relationships in our families are strong. We need to do our best to provide a basis for a happy and well functioning family.
The most important or pivotal relationship in a family is the relationship between husband and wife (or father and mother). If this relationship is not optimal, all other relationships will be effected. So moms and dads make sure that you work on keeping the lines of communication open between yourselves and work on your relationship. When you are unhappy it is not the answer to delay coming home in the evening by popping into the pub for a few drinks. It is also not the answer to shut yourself off from your children when things get tough. All this does is cause a rift which will effect the whole family. Kids are quick to pick up tensions in the home and these tensions often work their way out in bad behavior at school or with declining grades. This effects the whole community and our society at large. How often has your child come home unhappy because they have been treated badly by another kid at school? On investigation you will probably find that a dysfunction of some sort causes the bullying behaviour.
How do we ensure that our relationships stay on track? I believe that the word love is primarily a verb and not a noun. Love ( noun) is the way we feel, but love (verb) is what we do. Sometimes in a marriage (or any relationship) love starts to feels more like a habit than a natural feeling of expression. Sometimes when that happens we get upset and wonder what happened to the romance or the fun . But what is wrong with love being a good habit? Good habits provide a very good basis for many wonderful things in life. If you are habitually on time for things, it builds trust. If you are habitually positive, it builds hope! If you are habitually well behaved and well mannered it builds respect. Of course we need passion and excitement in our relationships, but it's a bit much to expect this 24/7 for decades. From time to time passion and excitement declines but it can be recovered. In fact it seems to me that fun and excitement are so easy to achieve that we have an over abundance of it in our lives, in fact it seems to be at the expense of everything else. Relationships (and communities) work in the long term because they are built on foundations of trust, patience, hard work and on loving actions. I do not think that long term relationships can survive on fun, passion and excitement alone. There will be times in all relationships when things seem more hard work than anything else but keep putting in the effort and you will reap the reward.
This kind of advice sounds boring! I really sound like an old granny, so surely there are other ways to find fulfillment in marriage, families and communities other than doing boring things like having good manners, being on time and speaking respectfully to and about people? But there is nothing boring about relationships and communities built on love and respect. When your kids are miserable and you are bordering on divorce, boring family life sounds like a fantastic alternative. When you don't have money to keep up bond repayments and you can't sleep at night because of this, boring old financial advise sounds amazing. When kids are dying in street fights and people are being shot and killed in hijacking incidents, boring old good manners is a wonderful relief.
With that in mind, moms and dads I wish you all a very boring weekend and life!!!