One of my great joys in life is time with my family. I love watching my kids interact with each other. To see the similarities they share as siblings, but to also observe the dissimilarity of behaviors among each one. One kid handles something one way, while the other reacts differently.

These are the joys (and pains) of parenting.

However, it is the parent’s duty to make sure they understand these differences and respond accordingly. But before parents start focusing on their kids one-by-one, it’s important to have a system in place that affirms the entire family in a loving way.

In my family we use the acronym L.O.V.E. to capture what every member of the family needs regardless of their different personalities.

Laugh—Make sure your home is a place of laughter. If everything is always so serious or moody, then the family will struggle in wanting to communicate and share with one another. But when the family shares moments of humor and laughter, it breaks down barriers and makes it so much easier to dialogue about other matters. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength (NLT).”

Open—Many families find it difficult to be open and real with each other. The way to change this is for parents to start being open with their kids. It’s good when parents are transparent with their kids. These opportunities often come unexpectedly, but are great times to share with your kids about the lessons you learned and the forgiveness you’ve received in Christ! When parents aren’t open…kids won’t be open! So, open up with your kids! Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all (ESV).”

Value—Every member of the family needs to feel valued. Several tips to show how every member is valued: (1) involve them in family matters; (2) ask them how they feel about certain things; (3) appoint a role for each member to play in the family; and (4) privately express your gratitude for the contribution made by each member and reward them publicly. Psalm 139:13-14 says, “You made my whole being; you formed me in my mother’s body. I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well (NCV).”

Encourage—This is a no brainer, but is something every family can improve on. It’s easy to bark demands and enforce the rules, but often, the way in which we do this discourages our children. Parents need to always seek out the heart of their child (no matter the age), and look for ways to speak encouraging words to them. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing (NIV).”

Here are some ways to encourage your family:

I am so proud of you.

Thank you so much for helping me.

Do you know how much I love you?

You are my gift from God.

I admire the way you handled that.

I was praying for you and…