My wife and I were talking the other day about how loving our kids were to one another when we brought each new baby home from the hospital. Our daughter, now 14, just about loved her two little brothers to death.
Our oldest son, couldn’t keep the smile off his face and just couldn’t get enough of his little bro. But sometimes today we can barely get them to stand next to each other for a photo, hug one another, or even be in the same room with one another without some type of disagreement or fight.
We should have expected this as we were warned. I can remember people telling us to enjoy it now, but be ready for the time when all they do is fight. We kind of dismissed it, thinking “our kids won’t be like that.”
While they do love each other, sometimes you can’t tell, and sometimes our kids are just like that! As a parent it is tough to deal with, no matter how good we get at resolving disagreements. As men, we especially don’t like it.
The one rule
One rule of thumb that was true for me and most of my friends who grew up with siblings, and is also true for many dads I know today, is as siblings you are taught to stick together and to stick up for one another. If I were to get into a fight as a kid and my brother was able to help, but didn’t help, he’d be in hot water when we got home.
Or if someone was messing with one of us, and the other allowed it to go one, that would not be taken lightly when we got home. I’m the same with our kids today. Our oldest kids know if someone is mistreating any one of them they better not allow it to go on. If little bro isn’t allowed to play with the toys, the games, or anything else, then they know none of them should play.
The number one thing
It’s almost a natural instinct type thing we instill in our family as men, and it hurts us to our core when it doesn’t happen. And that doesn’t matter if it happens when our kids are four and eight or when they are 34 and 38. That’s because…
It is devastating for a man when his family is torn apart, especially if he could have done something to prevent it.
Defining a family being “together”
What I’ve come to realize over the years is living in the same household doesn’t necessarily mean a man’s family is together. It’s not just a physical connection.
It’s an emotional, intellectual, and a spiritual connection. When you’re connecting with your wife and kids on those levels then you have a much better chance of keeping your family together, even when they have a choice to do otherwise. Below are three insights I’ve noticed that have kept my family together.
1 – We do more things together than apart
When we first got married I was still trying to hang with the fellas a lot. When I first made the decision to decline some of those times to hang with the fellas it challenged some of my friendships. But it helped us to grow closer during those early parts of marriage and building a family.
Guys night out is not necessarily a bad thing, but when it comes before date night, or spending time with your family, then it is. People used to tell us they never saw my wife without me and me without my wife. We did a lot together, and it’s paid off.
2 – We made church and other ministry activities a family thing
Just about every Sunday you can find us at church. On Wednesday evenings you can find our entire family at our kids Awana club. The act of worshiping together and developing spiritually is something that has been part of our family since shortly after our daughter was born.
This simple practice of attending weekly service, plus Bible reading and praying at home has been one of the most important staples for our family. We’ve all grown closer to one another because we’ve grown closer to God.
3 – We gather around our kitchen table daily
I’ve said in posts before that our kitchen table is the heartbeat of our family. It’s where we eat, we meet, we do school, we pray, we launch businesses, we discuss our finances, and we talk. For many it is an uncommon thing to eat meals together…at home…at the kitchen table.
For us it has been one of the major reasons our family has stayed together.
When you have busy schedules and hectic lives, there has to be a place where you can come and slow down. Of course your house is this place, but even within our houses there are gadgets and all kinds of other stuff that keeps us apart. We’ve made our kitchen table just the opposite of that. It can be the same for your family.
Give your family a chance
We can’t control everything that happens as our kids grow older and leave our homes, but we can have meaningful influence on our kids and families, by doing some simple things like I’ve mentioned above.
I encourage you to be intentional and give yourself a chance to have the number one thing a man wants for his family…to keep your family together.