Strengthen Your Relationships & Friendships

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Scenario One: You come in the door from a long day, throw you stuff on the floor and grumble to your mom that you’re hungry. You flop onto the couch, pick up the remote and try to finish watching the last episode of your favorite Amazon Original show. Your brother comes into the room and remarks that your show is stupid. After fifteen minutes of him being irritating, you turn off the TV, grab your backpack and head to your room. You grab your phone, then hear your dad holler at you from down the hall making sure you’re doing your homework. You love your family, but they constantly aggravate you. It seems like you’re continuously annoyed around your house. 

Scenario Two: It’s been a long day, but your best friend has invited you over for dinner. You walk into her house and are graciously met by her compassionate mother. You and your friend hop over to the living room to catch up on the show you missed last night. Her sister respectfully asks if she can join too. After the show is over, you head upstairs to her room. A half-hour later, you open up your notebook to start working on math homework. But, you’re interrupted by her dad who politely knocks on the door and says, “I know you guys are working on your homework, so just wanted to give you a heads up that dinner is almost ready.” At dinner, the conversation is engaging and sweet. Why can’t your family be like this? You feel more at home at your best friends house than you do at your own.

The Disconnect Between Family and Home Life

It’s common to have a disconnect between your family and home life. It’s not the building that makes you feel at home, it’s the people. Sometimes other people feel more loving and accepting than your own family. This doesn’t make your family lousy, it makes your family – yours. You let down your guard when you’re with people you know and love. Your family sees the best and worst of you, and you see the best and worst of them. When your mom has a bad day, you know it. Same goes for you. Your mom can read how you’re feeling as soon as you walk in the door. Unfortunately, that means you often disrespect the people who are closest to you. 

You would never walk into someone else’s home and throw your backpack on the ground and grumble to them when they’re welcoming you into their home. Other people respond to your reactions. When you act that way toward your parents or siblings, then they naturally are going to respond to your disrespect. Just like when someone graciously welcomes you to their home and politely keeps you up to date as to how things are going to unfold, you’ll respond accordingly. 

It’s hard to treat your family with the respect and honor that they deserve when your home is the place where you are all inundated with life’s mundane responsibilities. From chores, to paying bills, to homework and cooking dinner, your home is the hub of life’s busyness. Caring for each other gets lost in the mix. When you add any bit of stress to the household, it impacts everyone. Your mom is affected by your upcoming test, just like you’re affected by her own stressers. Your family is so swamped with a hectic lifestyle that you can’t see past the daily struggles and irritations. This places a heavy burden on everyone, especially as times become busier and more stressful.

Your family is where you learn the basics of how to love and honor others. Your home is a safe place to learn the intricacies of being in a relationship and connecting with others. It’s where you learn how to interact and care for those you love and who love you in return. If you like how you’re treated elsewhere, bring that treatment home. 

Connecting Family and Home

There’s no way you can change your family. And your view of your family isn’t going to change overnight. But, there are some tactics that you can implement in your life that will influence change. You have to be willing to see your family in a different way in order to benefit from the change you hope for. If your perspective of your family isn’t altered, then you will never be able to see them as the gracious gift God’s provided you. You can’t expect your family to change if you aren’t willing to put forth the effort yourself. Here are six ways to help you grow closer to your family while altering the way you see them. 

  • Designate a place in your home to pray. Perhaps you want to pray for your family by yourself in your room. Or, maybe you’ll create a spot by your fireplace where your family can pray together. Either way, set a reminder in that spot, whether it’s a cross, a chalkboard with prayer requests written down or a Bible. This item can help center your family around God and His provision for you. 
  • Journal about the things you’re grateful for, then praise God for your family.
  • Express what impresses you about each family member. Tell each person what he or she is really good at and how you admire his or her talents and gifts.
  • Write notes of encouragement and place them throughout your home. Write a scripture on your mom’s mirror using a tube of lipstick. Leave a post-it note on the dishwasher so your big brother will see it when he goes to do his chore. Pin a note on your dad’s shirt so he’ll find it when he’s getting dressed in the morning. Write something kind on a ribbon and tie it around the neck of your little sister’s teddy bear.
  • Research and study what scripture says about family, parents and brothers/sisters. Start with Proverbs 11:29.
  • Ask other people to pray for your family. If a particular person is going through a difficult time, ask your youth pastor, friend or their parent to pray for that person. Also, ask other people to pray for your family in general. Ask them to pray specifically that you all would develop a stronger bond and respect for one another would increase. 

Your family needs your love and respect, just like you need theirs. When life seems unbearable, your family will always be who you turn to. Build the bond you desire by focusing on God’s intentions for your family. He will strengthen you as you grow closer to each other. Praise God that you can feel “at home” with your family – maybe not today, but someday!

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