Step One: Never Ever Trust Any Lists on the Internet Ever
Here, let me help you with that.
Step Two: Mom and Dad in Cahoots
This may seem basic, but it isn’t always. Dad and Mom are unified. That’s how the family started and that’s how the family endures. The common wisdom is the truly wise course: parents should back each other in interactions with kids. If Daddy said it, Mommy agrees with Daddy. If Mommy had to come down hard, then Daddy doesn’t comfort the child, but sends her back to Mommy to be comforted. It’s like a loose ball in a basketball game where two people are grabbing for it only to realize they’re teammates. Keep struggling with each other and both will lose. The team loses. “Same team!”
This goes for interaction with the kids, but also for both husband and wife’s parents, and then the whole world.
I’ve heard married men and women described as the two blades on a pair of scissors. There’s plenty of friction, sure, but just watch out if you come between them. Plus, cahoots is an awesome word.
Step Three: Do Stuff Together
This one’s kind of scientific and brilliant and dynamic and sciency. I had to read several-thousand journal articles and interview cutting-edge thought-leaders to come up with this. Play games together. Read books together. Watch movies/plays together. Common experience, including laughter and pleasure, have power to shape like few things. Quote those movie lines together that make people think you’re weird. Be weird together. (But still take showers and don’t eat dirt. I have so much good advice!)
Step Four: Let Kids in on Pain and Lead Them
Obviously, there’s an appropriate way to do this and an inappropriate way. But inviting kids into some of what you’re fearing and facing, all the while interacting with those fears in a biblical way, is a crucial way to prepare kids for the reality of life, with all its real woe. It’s also a unity builder. People who suffer together and endure peril together are closer than any other people. Let your kids see you suffer well, and arm them in their suffering. Attach corporate meaning to pain, giving them understanding and modeling how we walk through suffering together, relying on God and those God has given us, for comfort and support.
Step Five: Tell and Retell and Retell and Retell Your Story
Who are we? We are people who serve King Jesus, who live now in longing for the surely coming Kingdom of God. We are children of God. Say it and display it. Make traditions of truth-saying, rituals and real connection to our deepest identity.
There’s an ultimate connection to The Story, and also less powerful, but still important, connections. Our family cheers for West Virginia. Pass it on. Pass on the enthusiasm, the identity. Build a connection to your culture and community, to the minor parts in minor ways, to the crucial things with crucial intensity.
Most importantly, happily pass on what will matter still when we all pass on, when the world as it is passes on and into the True New World.
Peace to you,