Sep 032013 8 Responses

4 Cornerstone Habits for Healthy Families

In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg discusses cornerstone habits.

Cornerstone habits are habits which produce multiple positive outcomes. In a business, a weekly staff meeting could be a cornerstone habit which promotes staff unity, develops staff communication, and encourages efficiency in production. For individuals, exercise is a cornerstone habit. It not only provides better physical health, but also improves a person’s psychological well-being, aides in digestion, and makes it easier for a person to sleep.

One habit can drastically change a person, a community, and a culture.

What are the cornerstone habits of healthy families? Stephen Covey has his list in 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, but here is my list.

4 Habits of Healthy Families:

1. Family Meals. It has been written about by many different sources (See Here, Here, or Here), but its importance cannot be understated. Families that eat together stay together. A regular family meal time is the one of the healthiest activities a person can engage in. What might become a weekly affair when the kids are grown and grandchildren are born, should be a near daily occurrence when the kids are still living in the house. Many object by saying it’s not possible in today’s culture. It may not be possible to eat together and have your child play every sport or be engaged in every activity, but it is possible to put family first and make family meals a non-negotiable activity and allow our children to miss other activities. A healthy family is more important than any extracurricular activity.

2. Family Vacations. Few things are as memorable to a child as a family vacation. The change of routine, scenery, and shared experiences are invaluable. I would guess, the amount of money spent in no way changes how memorable or meaningful a family vacation is. Whether it’s the most expensive item in a family’s budget or is a frugal trip with little expenses, family vacations can create deep bonds. Without the concerns of work, school, household chores, or other stresses, vacations are a great way to enjoy one another. One of the most overlooked aspects of family vacation is how it communicates to a child the importance of family. Once a year, a family should drop everything in order to spend time together.

3. Family Play. Notice it says family play and not “kids play while parents watch.” While healthy families cheer each other on while they are playing individually, they also find ways to play together. From family game night to shared sporting activities, there is something different when everyone participates. One of the reasons I like golf is that Silas and I play together. By playing together, instead of other sports where I would coach him as he plays, he gets to see me struggle, make mistakes, and deal with things when they don’t go as I expect. This shared activity is a great time to model how we handle the ups and downs of life. Coaching a child is a wonderful activity, but it should not replace engaging in shared activities.

4. Family Worship. While it’s listed last, it is not the least important. Worshipping together is one of the most important habits of faith which clearly communicates the importance of God. Believing you can raise a child who is likely to have faith while not making corporate worship a regularly priority is ludicrous. Worship that is occasional for one generation generally becomes non-existent in the next generation. Worshipping together as a family does not guarantee that a child will believe, but it does provide a much better climate for faith. If God is important to a family, corporate worship will take a high priority in their weekly schedule.

Small habits can have a meaningful impact. They are not magic solutions which solve every problem, but they are powerful habits which can transform a family. Eat together, rest together, play together, and worship together. Try these things and see what happens.

What would you add as the 5th cornerstone habit?

8 Responses to 4 Cornerstone Habits for Healthy Families
  1. Dan Trantham Reply

    Respect for the mom. The dad should show respect. The kids should show respect. The dad must communicate clearly and swiftly when anyone in the household loses the focus on who the mother is and the anchor she is to the family. Not going bed to on time? Back talking? Not cleaning their room? Anything. When there is a trip-up in the proper respect expected, my children know they aren’t just messing with their mom, they’re messing with my bride. And no one messes with my bride because she is second in priority to me only to the Father. She is a higher importance to the family, and this is not popular in our culture, than the children. She and I are one. The kids are just a close second.

    The dad must show her respect and every action and word said to her is establishing how the kids respect her. My dad told me one time that my mom would love me without conditions and I would respect her; and that he would love me without conditions but I would fear him. If you look at myself and my four brothers and the blessings we’ve had and the accomplishments we’ve all had, there is no doubt my dad had a good formula.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Dan, this should be its own blog post. One thing I tell my children often, “you don’t talk to my wife that way.”

  2. Michael Callaay Reply

    Excellent comment by Dan. I think my 5th Habit to add would be WORK. Passing on to your children a healthy work ethic is a fantastic gift that will help them their entire lives. This process starts early in their development and begins simply with chores around the house. Teaching kids to work hard will give them a sense of responsibilty and accomlishment. Colossians 3:23 which says to “work heartily as for the Lord” gives us a Biblical context from which to engage them. Of course, modeling the behavior is always one of the best ways to get the point across that keeps us focused on the objective as well!

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