For most people the word "home" evokes feelings of security, happiness, and belonging.
The Family: A Proclamation to the World teaches many important principles about what should happen within the four walls of a home in order to create these feelings. It is inside the home that relationships are strengthened, children are taught, and joy is felt.
Families can work together to make their home a sacred center for family life, a place where each family member feels a sense of belonging and a place of refuge and shelter from the outside world. When families create a sacred home, the comforting environment nourishes each family member, strengthens relationships, and fosters learning the important lessons of life.
Below are five important elements of a home that is a sacred center for family life.
When family members put others' needs above their own, they impart holiness to themselves and to their home. Learning to set aside your own needs and wants for others helps your loved ones become happier and adds to your own happiness. When each member of the family focuses on making others happy, everyone benefits.
Examples of how family members might sacrifice for one another include:
- Save your spending money to help a family member accomplish something, such as gaining an education, or purchase something, such as a new bicycle.
- Take turns when playing games and with toys or when watching favorite television shows.
- Allow another family member to have the last piece of dessert.
Prayer brings us closer to God and inspires us to be more like Him. It softens hard feelings, reminds us to be grateful, and provides in understanding how to better our lives. If homes are filled with prayer, family members are more likely to look outside of themselves when resolving difficult situations. Allowing the influence of God to enter the home through prayer makes the home sacred and more enjoyable.
Here are some suggestions about prayer in the home:
- Pray regularly and at set times so everyone knows in advance and can participate. You may need to have more than one morning prayer if children leave for school or work at different times.
- Give each family member a chance to pray. Teach children to pray from the time they can speak. If they don't know what to say, prompt them as they learn.
Working together in the home is an important part of family life. Through housework not only does the house get clean, making your home a more inviting place, but also family members get the opportunity to interact and spend time together. When parents work alongside their children, the parent-child hierarchy dissolves and communication opens up. Teaching your children to work while they are young instills in them valuable character traits that will serve them well all their lives.
Ways to encourage work in the home include:
- Work beside your children, teaching them the skills of keeping up a home. Working together breaks down barriers, allowing parents to grow closer to children and siblings to grow closer to one another.
- Rotate daily and weekly chores so children don't get bored doing the same tasks over and over. Be sure to keep chores age appropriate.
- Be clear about what you're assigning your children and what’s expected of them before they start. If you add on new tasks after a child thinks he's finished, you likely will discourage him from working.
- Make work fun. Crank up the stereo and sing and dance while you scrub. Plan a treat after everyone's tasks are accomplished.
Parents prepare their children to live in society by teaching them in the home about being responsible, moral beings. Home is where children learn to speak, love others, and care for themselves.
Here are basic suggestions for teaching in the home:
- Read to your children when they are young, even before they can talk. Reading time fosters bonding at the same time that it introduces children to the skills that will help them become good speakers, readers, and writers.
- Make eating meals together a priority. Through dinner conversations parents learn about their children's lives. Younger children, by listening to conversations, can build their vocabulary.
- Teach children to respect their bodies by encouraging regular exercise and providing healthy meals. Take time to teach your children about the different food groups and the importance of eating a balanced diet.
Cultural enrichment and entertainment in the home introduces your children to art, dancing, music, and sports. Wide exposure helps children find hobbies and discover talents that will stimulate their minds and feed their souls.
Here are suggestions about providing cultural enrichment in your home:
- Invite your children to dance, draw, or participate in sports with you. Participate at their level and encourage them as they learn. Provide them with a safe environment to try new things.
- Take your children to see plays and concerts. Give them options and let them choose which events they would like to go to.
- Know which culturally enriching activities you yourself enjoy and participate in them, showing your children by example an appreciation for the arts.
- Limit television watching. Use the extra time to be active or creative by playing outdoors, practicing a musical instrument, drawing, or reading.
Written by Jennifer Crockett, Research Assistant, and edited by Stephen F. Duncan, Professor, School of Family Life, Brigham Young University.
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