by Mark Timm, CEO Ziglar Family
In last week’s blog post, I talked about what it means to fight fair when you find yourself in a conflict with someone you love. I offered 20 tips for managing conflict in your family, but all of those suggestions can really be summed up in one simple way: Put others first.
The Bible talks about this topic in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. In the context of marriage relationships, he says, “Submit to one another.”
Now, sometimes that word submit gets misunderstood or even abused. It’s not about dominance, but respect for one another. We naturally focus on our own desires first, but the secret for coming together as a family is to put what others in the family want and need ahead of what you personally would prefer.
Zig Ziglar famously said,
“You can have everything in life you want, if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want.”
Husbands, if you will focus on what is best for your wife first, good things will happen for you. Wives, if you will do the same for your husband, good things will happen for you, too.
Parents, if you consider the strength of the family as more important than your own desires, and act accordingly, then look out – because your family will start to become a family that truly thrives.
So, what are some practical ways to begin to put your family first?
Shift your approach from being all about me and what I want to thinking of others and what they want.
Focus on encouraging growth in one another, not finding faults in one another.
Intentionally listen to your spouse and children instead of talking at them.
Mr. Ziglar said that our families, and especially our children, need 3 things expressed to them on a regular basis in order to thrive:
Availability: We make time for what we care about, right? So when we’re not available for our families, we send the message that we don’t care about them, even if that’s not our intent.
One practice to help convey how much we care is to turn off the technology when it’s time to focus on family. Start with no phones at the dinner table and no TVs playing in the background so that you can truly focus on enjoying each others’ company and conversation without any distraction.
Affection: In our increasingly disconnected day and age, signs of affection have become even more important for maintaining healthy family relationships. When kids are younger, it’s important to hug them, let them sit on your lap as you read a story, or hold your hand as you shop.
As children get older, those same kids still need to know they are loved, so I encourage you to keep hugging your kids and telling them you love them.
And of course your spouse is not immune to needing signs of affection, too, so reaching out to hold hands on occasion, or giving random hugs now and then carries a lot of significance.
Appreciation: When we express our gratitude for one another, we communicate that we care. I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t respond well to being appreciated for something he or she has done.
Yes, it is an expectation that our children will do what we tell them to do (take out the trash, empty the dishwasher), but when we thank them for a job well-done, we’re modeling an attitude of gratitude.
Focus on being intentional about bringing these three qualities into your daily family life as a powerful way begin to put others first.
In a culture that encourages us to think and act in self-centered ways, commit to being the agent for change within your own family, and get ready to be amazed by what a difference you will see in your day-to-day interactions with one another.
It’s an important step to take toward becoming a family that wins!
What are some ways you put your family first? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
My wife and I like to create memorable moments for our kids. We want to set some stones of remembrance down, so to speak. So we make a big deal out of a family hike, or a night out shopping, or a big art project. It all requires intentionality.
As a daddy, husband and job worker…I am trying to talk to everyone as an individual. Our son has a developmental delay and taking time alone with other men at church is very valuable. We need to work on date nights where we can be a couple.
A single mother, working and Pershing further studies , i rarely get much time to spend with my son during the day or dinner times. But I do make sure I prepare Him to school personally in the morning n have breakfast together.
I feel that this is not enough n am still adjusting to my busy schedule n to find more ways I can be there for Him
Hi Hellen! Thanks for your comment! I’m Jen, with the Ziglar Family team. I understand the pressures of time that a working mom faces, and in the case of a single mom I’m sure it’s even more challenging. I love to see what you’re saying about having breakfast together! That’s awesome, and that’s very valuable!! There are very few families that can actually make time to sit down together on busy school day mornings. Remember, when your schedule limits your QUANTITY of time with him, it’s the QUALITY that will ultimately matter. So enjoy your precious moments together, and know that you’re doing the best you can.