Communication is a two-way street with sharing of your beliefs and values and then listening to your family's response. Based on your conversations, you may end up revising and rethinking some of the values that you have clarified prior to your family gathering. Ideally, family members should be able to think of examples where these beliefs and attitudes were displayed in your actions. Discussions around these examples can be very affirming and a great opportunity to share deeper insights behind your convictions.
You may find the process of clarifying, communicating and making commitments is just that - a process rather than distinct, consecutive steps. There will likely be a few iterations of the process, and the steps will begin to merge as you refine your thinking as a family. Keep in mind the goal is not an efficient process, but rather fostering communication, promoting sharing, and strengthening relationships with those you love. This is an ideal opportunity, as parents, to connect deeply with your children and contribute to their relational "bank account". The process may not be quick, but it has the potential to be a defining exercise in your family and change your family legacy for generations!
Often parents have concerns that communication will lead to conflict rather than harmony. They may be right. Or they may be wrong. However, ignoring the potential of conflict will not make it go away, it will simply allow time to further compound the situation. If conflict does not erupt until you are gone, irreparable damage will almost certainly occur if children are left to address this on their own. You probably do not have to look far to see an example of this in a family near you. If conflict does occur during your family gathering, it might be exactly what is needed. It will get your attention, shed light on where your family is clearly at, and bring accountability to get resolution and correct flawed perspectives. “If conflict is imminent, communication is key to correction, forgiveness, healing, and a renewed sense of trust and family commitment.”*
Unfortunately, you cannot give yourselves perspective. To see potential flaws in your thinking or behaviour, you will need another perspective. This may come from your family members or from outside advisors. Depending on your family dynamics, you may need one or more outside professionals to assist you.
“In the final analysis, we will be judged not for what we intended to do, but what we actually did. The Apostle James put it this way, ‘Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.’ (James 2:17) Pretty harsh words.”**
The true test of the first two steps, values and communication, is what you actually do. You have integrity when your words and actions match, it allows you to leave a legacy that is taught and caught. Commitment to your beliefs and God-given vision is key, for without it you only have empty promises. With it your words will be a source of wisdom and inspiration, and will bring your family closer together as well as closer to God.
*Wills, David, Parker, Terry & Sperry, Greg (2015) Family. Money. National Christian Foundation, page 32.
** Wills, David, Parker, Terry & Sperry, Greg (2015) Family. Money. National Christian Foundation, page 32.
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