Habits are human nature. As the saying goes, “We are creatures of habit.” But habits, particularly family habits, direct the course of our lives. They take us places. Sometimes places we want to go, other times…not so much. Families that take the time to intentionally think through and plan their patterns and habits will be able to navigate better and influence the next generation well for the long journey.
So let’s get disciplined and train our families with well thought-out habits. Here are four steps to make it happen.
…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-5
- Identify Pain: There is suffering and there are trials in life. Good habits are an antidote to the chaos that sin brings into God’s world. Consider pain points in your family. Perhaps you are disconnected. Maybe your children are behind in their education. Consider patterns of misbehaviour and what that reveals such as lying or whining.
- Implement Training: When you have clearly identified a pain point in your home, use that starting place to blitz ideas or research possible good habits that will counter it. For example, the pain of loneliness might stir up desires to find ways to get more regularly connected at church. Or, too much screen time might generate an urge to block out some quiet time or schedule a board games night. Pick one and schedule it (daily, weekly, monthly, annually). Schedule time and place. Learn how to coach well. Plan to persevere.
- Influence Growth: Once a habit is going, keeping it going is a struggle. But this is where character is formed. Be all in on what you decide. Review to make sure your framework in place will make the habit sustainable. Get buy-in from everyone in the family at a family meeting. Be aware of natural resistance to change. Build trust through positive reinforcement and meaningful attention and connection. Consider your use of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, motivators and incentives.
- Inspire Destiny: Hope is like a deep breath of fresh air. It fills us so we can keep going. One day, God will restore a New Heavens and New Earth. Until that time, good godly habits are how we partner with God in His restoration plan. Our families can provide fertile soil for planting and reaping good habit fruit. With every habit you learn, strongly answer the question of why you’re implementing it. Consider the impact on your peace and joy at home. Consider the character it will form. Consider long-term health benefits, financial benefits, educational benefits, spiritual benefits. Young children will have difficulty seeing the long-term, so that will mostly be for you. But as children grow, you can add more terminology and reasoning that will help them get over the hump of resistance.
Identifying and coming to grips with pain and suffering is a driver for learning a new habit. Implementing a new training plan with a simple and actionable goal gets the habit off the ground. Steady, ongoing coaching and practice will sustain the habit and influence its growth. A sustained habit will shape who you become so continually inspire a hopeful destination.
Your kids need you. Lead them well by showing them how to form strong habits for life…no matter how often failure creeps in and how crooked the path may be.