The past few days I have been writing about "belonging". I posted about belonging in the dojo and in the church. Today I want to think about belonging at home. While I have some amount of influence over the atmosphere in the dojo (or school or workplace) and in the church, as a parent I have authority over the atmosphere of my home.
Remember, at the beginning I stated that for me the feeling of belonging comes from feeling safe and secure, taken care of and protected, loved and accepted. When I think about home and what I want it to be like for my kids, the qualities I listed above are at the top. Safe and secure: My children will not attack each other. There are plenty of bullies and mean comments at school and in the neighborhood. Home should be a place where children are built up, not torn down, even by brothers and sisters. Not that there is never an argument or good-natured teasing, but we have a standard to aim at and we want to promote an atmosphere of respect for each other. Taken care of and protected: Pretty much the same as above. I want my kids to know that their needs will be met, and home is a safe place. Loved: Love should be expressed. Hugs and "I love you" should happen a lot. That one I still fail miserably on, it doesn’t seem to be in my nature to express love. But again, it is the standard I shoot for, I just have to pray and think about it daily. Accepted: We try hard to have no preconceived notions of our children's strengths or interests. I am willing to let them pursue whatever they want (within moral and safe limits, of course!). The kid who excels in math is no better than the one who excels in literature or the one who is creative and musical. Character in school and activities is expected, working to build up the weak areas is expected, and running with their strengths is expected. Using the abilities God has given them is expected. Being perfect is not. Being like me is not.
I don't always succeed in these things, but this sums up what I want home to be like for my kids. It is sad when home is not a place where a child feels like they belong, when they have to search for acceptance elsewhere. I don’t want that for my children. As a parent you have the authority and the responsibility to set the tone of your home. I encourage you to put some prayer, thought and planning into it. No thought and no plan will probably end up with less then desirable results. And prayer is always a good beginning. Prayer is a good middle and end too, now that I think about it!