Christmas is just days away now! As we start getting ready for our time with family, there’s still room to look at what brings us together: loyalty.
It might be a funny thing to talk about at Christmas, but loyalty plays a part in who we decide to spend this special day with. It’s definitely a quality to unwrap with your kids this Christmas.
If you look at families that work well, they all have strong relationships. There’s a sense of belonging that nobody questions. And that all comes down to loyalty. The knowledge that no matter what, your place in that family is safe. And your job is to stand up in the tough times and do your part.
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Here’s ten tips for building more loyalty in your family.
1. Make the belonging worthwhile. Your family should be a place that crafts the best version of you and your kids. Life should feel richer from the relationships and memories you forge together.
2. Offer a safe harbour. We all need somewhere to retreat when we feel under attack or wounded. Make your home that place for your kids. Don’t let them go looking elsewhere..
3. Expect it, but don’t test it. There will be enough challenges in life to test the loyalty in your family. So don’t create your own mini-tests along the way. Keep your expectations high and model being loyal.
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4. Accept each other as human. There needs to be space to make mistakes, with forgiveness a given. You don’t need to ignore hurtful actions or words though. You might put tougher boundaries in place or have difficulty trusting them, but a strong family is one that always welcomes you back.
5. Be real. The best families build their relationships on honesty and authenticity.
“Don’t lose your grip on love and loyalty. Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart.” – Hebrew proverb
6. Make the rules of membership clear. As kids get older, you need to start creating a shared house culture. Remember those days? The house rules stuck on the fridge; everyone had set jobs to do. You all contributed to the running of the house. You respected one another’s things and privacy. In a house full of teenagers, talk openly and often about the costs and benefits of being part of your family.
7. Be open to new members. Don’t think of loyalty as some sort of mafia stronghold. Families are fluid things, with people joining and people leaving. Particularly once your teenagers start dating. There needs to be space for people to learn your ways and feel accepted. And if they choose to opt out, let go kindly.
8. Harness the power of rituals. People have used rituals for thousands of years to mark special occasions and to share knowledge. Baptisms, coming of age ceremonies, weddings and funerals are all part of this. Look for ways to build predictable patterns into your family life. “We always do this…” should be something that brings a smile to your face, even if the kids are grumbling.
9. Don’t play favourites. For a family to work well, everyone needs to feel they have an equal place. It might not always be fair, but there shouldn’t be a pecking order.
10. Make life fun. People like belonging to groups that are fun. If being part of your family is all rules and hard work, your’ll lose your kids when they move out. Families built on loyalty do fun things that bring everyone back together.
We’re so blessed to have families but we can sometimes take them for granted. Building loyalty isn’t something we can force. It’s about living the best version of our own lives in company with others.
Article supplied with thanks to Rachel Doherty from Tweens 2 Teen. Rachel helps those living and working with young people, through supervision, coaching, speaking and consulting.