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What I want to cover today is how we should deal with outside influences when it comes to raising your children, or just running your family. Yes, I say running your family for a very good reason, and I’ll cover that later.
The bottom line is this, no one starts off being a parent as an expert! You can read as many books as you want, attend as many classes, or workgroups, but the fact of the matter is, YOU JUST DON’T KNOW! Becoming a parent is easily one of the most exciting, yet fearful things that you will ever experience in your life. This fear, however, is a more healthy type of fear – the fear of failure.
So, the typical reaction for someone who is new, and about to start a family of their own is to go around asking others how exactly they should go about this new adventure (most times others insist on giving the advice any way). There is nothing wrong with this. Everyone should make some type of effort to prepare themselves for the unknowns of parenthood. However, it is important to understand that you, your family, and the way you go about raising them will never be perfect — and that isperfect! If you stress yourself out because your kid may be too loud at a restaurant, or you’re having trouble helping your kids understand fractions (…I hated fractions…), GOOD! This stress will, or shouldforce you to react and make a change.
The key component to all of this is that you need to buckle down, and decide what it is that you want your family to be – what will be your families identity. The reason this is so important is because it will provide you with a foundation for you to operate on. Let me give you all some tips on how we go about this:
No one family is perfect, but each family has something great about them!
First, make early decisions
Make the decision early on some key characteristics of what you wantyour family to be, or do. For example, if you want your family to be religious, make the early decision to devote yourself, and your family to your faith. The reason you make this decision early is so that when you are met with conflict, and you have to decide between overindulging the night prior, or calling it an early night so you can wake up the next day for service, the answer is already there for you — you made that decision long ago.
If you want your family to be healthy, decide early on that you will prioritize funds for groceries rather than cable TV. Since you decided early on that you want your family will lead a healthy life, your budgeting will be geared toward making sure that you can feed your family the food that they need to grow strong, rather than the food you forced yourself to buy because you are short on cash. Personally, we gave up cable TV so that we can do just that. Not only do we have more than enough money for groceries, we also made it less likely for us to get sucked into the habit of coming home, lounging on the couch, and watching those back to back TV shows that can be rejuvenating for a while, but typically keep you from being any form of productive.
Ditch the cable, get Netflix … they have Hog Hunters and all that other stuff there for a lot cheaper…
Second, communicate your goals with your family
Usually, there is one person in the family who has the greatest influence the majority of the time. This person can have the greatest of intentions with their dreams, and their vision of their families future, but if you don’t share this with the rest of the clan, how can you expect for your family to go in that direction?
One of the things we started a few years ago is identifying what our family values would be. My wife and I sat down and thought, what is most important to us, what has defined us as individuals over the years, and which of those qualities would we want to emphasize and pass on to our kids. So, we came up with this:
Whenever you ask a Rodas boy, “What do the Rodas’ do?”, they respond in confidence:
WE GET STRONG;
WE GET SMART:
SO THAT WE CAN HELP PEOPLE
We took this type of approach because it forced the boys to take ownership of those statements. Though we claim them to be our values, they are also action statements which guide us on a daily basis. These values are our early decisions – we will get strong, we will develop an atmosphere that encourages a love of learning, and we will, in any way we can, help other people. Through volunteering, through friendship, through random acts of kindness, or just plain ol’ manners! We choose live by these values everyday.
Now, the reason it is important for you to establish this blueprint for your family in the forefront is so you can deal with outside influences. I stated in an earlier post that we cannot control whether or not we influence people, or if others influence us. We do, however, have control over how we influence others, and how we allow the influence of others to effect us.
If we have not created a desired identity, a blueprint, or values for our families, the likelihood of taking in influence from others that counters what we hope to achieve increases. If you want your children to do well in school, why would you adopt a habit of sitting in front of the TV for hours on end? My parents were NOTORIOUS for this! On Saturdays, I kid you not, there was a TV show that lasted HOURS, and they’d watch it religiously. It wasn’t until someone had something special like a birthday party, or some type of reunion that we’d actually escape the walls of the house to go have some fun (except for work…we worked a lot in my family, and I love them all to death). Since my wife and I made the early decision to “get strong”, every evening after dinner we would go outside and do something. In Germany, it was taking walks; now it’s more like doing small workouts with tire flips, handstand holds/push-ups, or riding bikes. WE STICK TO OUR GAMEPLAN.
…and they will walk down that beaten path which you made for them. It’s up to you to decide where it goes.
Does this mean that we wont let others influence us? No! We are still influenced by other families, but we only adopt habits that are consistent with our goals, and if they have something going on for them that we like, we take it! No one family is perfect, but each family has something great about them!
Find out what your family has going for them – every family is great in some way. Sit down and actually write down what your families values or beliefs are, what you want them to be, and take action. It’s that simple! It’s inaction that will tear your family down, and you will forever regret that you didn’t suck it up, put in that extra energy, and make your family its personal best. I always tell people, “Never settle for mediocrity!” Our species is far too awesome to walk the face of this Earth as mediocre. We should all strive to reach our highest levels, reach so far that we may loose our balance, but not quite fall – if not for yourself, do it for the little eyes that are always watching. Because they do notice everything, and they will walk down that beaten path which you made for them. It’s up to you to decide where it goes.
“If better is possible, then you’re not done!” – John C. Maxwell
Make the effort, do your part. This is what we’re all about.
Fight on, Friends! – The Warrior Family
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