A Heart With a Home

“You wouldn’t still love me if I went to jail, would you Mom?”

What sort of question was this coming from my six-year-old son? Did my son think he had to earn my love? Was I raising him to believe my love was conditional? How could this be? 

Jake’s question was an AHA moment for me. I was interacting with my own kids the same way I ran my elementary school classroom. Order and control are necessary components to run a class full of thirty students. In my home, my natural and logical consequences approach combined with a reward and punishment system did result in typically good behavior, but that also sent the message (the wrong and unintended message), they were loved only when they complied. 

You wouldn’t still love me if I went to jail moment was a turning point in the way I related to my four kids.

5 Ways to Create a Home With Heart:

Like you, I love my kids with my whole being. I want my home to be a home with a heart. A place where love is doled out unconditionally and lavishly, no matter the circumstances. Where love is freely given, not earned. 

Over time, I discovered 5 ways to create a home with a heart. 

  1. H— Helper. Be each other’s helper. Create an interdependent atmosphere in your home rather than an independent environment. Let your home be the place where your children are comfortable asking for, receiving, and giving help. This will strengthen all the relationships within the family.
  2. E—Enjoy. Enjoy and appreciate each child’s unique personality, talents, gifting, and preferences. That appreciation stops the urge to compare kids. When we cease comparing and instead value each person’s uniqueness, jealousy and envy are less likely to move into your home. Set time aside to really get to know each kiddo. Discover their likes, dislikes, dreams, goals, and vision. I used to give each of my 4 kids a calendar for the upcoming year to hang in their rooms. A pug calendar for Kendra, an Avalanche Hockey calendar for Jake, Scripture verses for Courtney, and a horse calendar for Samantha.  Each calendar reflected each child’s particular likes, or so I thought. “UG! A horse calendar again! I like beaches.” Don’t make my horse calendar mistake. These preferences change over time so be aware. 
  3. A—Affection. Weave words and acts of affection into your relationship. As kids get older the way we show affection naturally shifts. A teen boy may not respond warmly to a hug, but he is likely to take a shoulder rub. 
  4. R—Recreation. Have fun together. Laughter and play are two excellent relationship connectors. We can get so serious. Now that my kids are adults, the shared memories of doing things together and family inside jokes continue to cement the relationships.
  5. T—Train. Train for characteristics and qualities you would like to see fostered in your child. Rather than punish or reward for good or bad behavior, discover the qualities that need to be developed or increased in your child. We often know what we don’t like, so notice what you want to extinguish and work on the quality that is the opposite of that. For example, if you notice your child seems to have a selfish bent, instead of punishing the child for not sharing start working on empathy and practicing unselfish type of acts. Include humility in your training. Remind yourself you were not a perfect kid. Let your home be a safe place to make a mistake.   

To answer my son’s question, “Would you still love me if I went to jail?”

The answer is, “Of course. I may not always like or agree with what you do but I will always love you. You are my son. Yes.” 

A smarter mom than me may also raise an eyebrow, tilt her head to the side and ask a question of her own, “Hmmm, interesting question. Why do you ask?” 

We love because he first loved us.

1 John 4:19

Lori’s book, The Messy Life of Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family Connections contains additional ways to parent with grace and build strong connections.