John, Mark & Tonya continue their discussion, turning their attention to balance in the family!
1) What are the most important areas to maintaining balance in leading your family?
John: To get the ball rolling here, the three things that came to my mind when I thought over this question were discipline, communication, and values. What I mean by communication is that it’s consistent. Whatever we are communicating has to be consistent with our values. You can’t best determine your discipline and communication if you don’t know what your values are.
Tonya: Early on, we found Covey’s book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families. He gave some cool ideas about writing mission statements for your family, so we did that. It was a way to keep the compass pointing north for our family? One mission for us was that each felt they were important in this family. This involved making time for talking with each other. Sitting in circles, seeing each other eye to eye; couple time, one-on-one time with the kids with the intention of making sure the kids knew they had a place to open up.
Mark: Early on we were convinced a healthy marriage was foundational. This meant time away with each other as well as time alone. We joked with the kids, “We didn’t choose you kids, but we chose each other. After you’re gone, we’re still going to be choosing each other.” So there was the spousal relationship first. The other thing that we were pretty convinced on is that we wanted to be family-centric not kid-centric. We wanted life to be about family as a unit together.
Tonya: Covey talks about creating an atmosphere where we are all for each other. Supporting one another’s dreams, not one over the other, but equally together. We tried to implement that in our home as well.
Mark: Yeah, as kids get older and they are getting pulled in various directions it is important to emphasize that we are here for each other. You know, there is no playbook or rule book to follow; it’s a little trial and error as you go. Having values established up front makes it easier when it comes to making decisions and choices down the road.
John: So while y’all have been talking, my brain has been focusing on the challenge to think about this question as a family of one. Two words are coming to my mind: contentment and respect. Maintaining contentment is huge for a single person. You can choose to be discontented for a whole bunch of reasons and look for it in many wrong ways. Being content in whether your singleness is lifelong or seasonal is part of keeping balance. And I say respect because there is a level of respect that a single person has to own for themselves, much like the respect you have both talked about relating to being family focused. Finding the level of self-respect that keeps you balanced rather than seeking it elsewhere is also important.
As part of your role as parents, you are teaching your kids it’s not just that you love them but God loves them! Whether we are a family of one or twenty, every person in the household should live out of the fact that ‘God loves me first’.
Tonya: When my sons were little, I’d say, “I love you as much as I possibly can, but I don’t love you the most. God does! He will always love you better than your mom and dad can.” It’s so important to me they understand that.
Mark: The idea of contentment resonated with me. There have been seasons in my life where I had to be reminded to be content. I’m on the floor changing a nasty diaper, and I can’t wait until diapers are gone. Then it hits me what that will mean is this child has grown and will be different. So that contentment concept plays in my life and certainly in a married context as well. I have chosen this, and it is what I want even if it’s not always glamorous or pleasant. I’ve always said, “Golf will always be there. My kids will not.” So I can be content in being an involved dad today rather than chasing that white ball around the course.
Tonya: I think you’re reevaluating all the time. You get off track and say, “time to reevaluate”. I remember one time when my oldest son was probably eleven or twelve years old and on the way home from hockey practice said, “Mom, I looked up in the stands and you and dad are the only parents there. It makes me feel so good that you are there watching me.” It reinforced for us that we were on the right track! Most parents dropped off the kids and went to run errands, etc, but this mattered more, plus we loved it. And now that I’m sitting on this side where he’s now twenty and in New Jersey and my youngest is seventeen and a senior, I know I didn’t miss a thing. I now have plenty of time for errands and I’d rather be at their hockey practice.
John: You just gave us all a great illustration. The child of God is always looking for his father in the stands of life. As you said that I thought every child wants that from their parent, and as a child of God we are looking for that as well.
Next blog – balancing spiritual formation in the family between legalism and “letting them find their own way”?
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, by Stephen R. Covey
The Power of a Praying Parent, by Stormie Omartian
The Five Love Language series, by Gary Chapman
John Gregory – pastor, coach, writer and musician – https://johngregoryjr.com/
Mark Stanifer – life coach, 20 yrs experience in corporate America, husband, father – https://dare2livecoaching.com/
Tonya Waechter – leadership coach, 22+ years therapy experience, wife, mother – www.tonyawaechtercoaching.com