One of the greatest blessings we can give our children is the cultivation of a happy home.
I say “cultivation” because it doesn’t happen automatically; it requires conscious, determined, deliberate effort. From my own experience and from observing others, here are 10 ways to cultivate a happy home.
1. Joyous worship.
As God is the ultimate source of all true happiness, we need to be in constant contact with him. Communing with him in private and family worship brings His joy into our lives and families. We have to make time for worshiping together as families—not as a “must do” but as a “get to do.”
Fathers especially have a responsibility to organize their schedules and homes so that they regularly gather their families in God’s presence and enthusiastically drink from His refreshing rivers of joyful grace in Christ.
2. Generous praise.
Psychologists and sociologists have found that for every negative or critical comment we make to someone, we have to make three positive comments just to get back to even. That means if we want to grow and deepen our relationships, we have to speak four or five times more positive comments to someone for every negative.
And let’s be lavish in our praise of people outside our home too. Instead of rejoicing in others’ falls and failures, let’s rejoice in their successes. When someone criticizes someone, let’s find something to praise about them too.
3. Family meals.
In our hectic world, it’s almost impossible to get family members to just sit down for five minutes and talk. There are always more important and urgent things to do.
Family meal times fix that. Even with conflicting schedules, shift work, etc., we have to try as hard as possible to maximize the number of times in a week that the whole family (or as many as possible) are “forced” to sit down and talk together.
You’ll be surprised at how enjoyable it is.
4. Habitual gratitude.
When I notice that our family conversation has been turning a bit negative over a period of time, I usually initiate the “three blessings” practice for a few days or weeks. We go round the table and ask each family member to list three things they’re grateful for. That practice seems to kickstart a more general gratitude in life as well, enhancing relationships and deepening joy.
5. Funny stories.
I’m always on the look out for funny stories and good jokes to share. They may be stories from my own life and work or stories I’ve heard from others; and I’m always on the lookout for humorous incidents on the Internet.
Or it may be a bit of gentle teasing of my wife or kids, laughing with them at something silly they (or I) said or did that day. All of this is so much better than majoring on the latest disasters and horror stories from all around the world.