Tuesday, July 3, 2007

What Makes a Happy Home?

We were born to live joy filled lives, is your life full of joy or woe or maybe a mixture of both? Why is it that some families seem to 'have it all' while others bicker, feud and end up dysfunctional? Why do some people seem able to always be happy and a joy to be around while for many more life seems to be an unequal struggle, against budgets, time constraints and deadlines?

When we look back to simpler days when life was less hectic and people had time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, many of us sigh at the image we are presented and also long for the 'good ole days' but was it that good? Looking back at our grandparents era they seemed to live happier and more content lives, but how can this be when they had less than what we enjoy today? Perhaps it is not so much about having 'things' as having substance and meaning, to everything they did, and that through their combined hard work they enjoyed the simple pleasures of life rather than gripe about the things they could not afford. Are we in a quest to gain the best for our families or are we longing to own what everybody else has?

In order to simplify our lives we need to understand that this will take effort, some self sacrifice and a realignment of our previous priorities, for the key to family happiness is inner contentment with what you have now and not a longing and discontent for what you do not have or can afford. Another key component is to understand what happiness is and what it is not, for in those who strive to gain things for themselves and their families often find they are leading lives of quiet desperation as their families neediness of 'things' increases while your own health and peace decreases, is it worth the price?

If you raise your children to take all you do for granted, they will do exactly that! If you don't respect your own work or worth then why should others? As Eleanor Roosevelt once told an audience, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." If you make small of all the work you do within and outside of your home then why should your spouse or children respect what you yourself do not? Children will reflect what the parents have placed as all important in their lives.This is not to say that all children are angels or that every fault they display is the fault of the parents but a lack of appreciation and gratitude is indicative of a learned behaviour pattern.

When we fail to acknowledge what our Spouses contribute within the family unit whether it be providing a decent wage in order to live with the necessities of life or whether to provide a clean, healthy and happy environment, then it is the entire family that suffers. It is when children see the appreciation expressed by their parents for each other which validates and honors their own position within the family unit that children will soon follow suit and give their parents the respect they deserve. Also when we de-value our partners, by either ignoring their input or by taking for granted all the little things that make life bearable, are we not setting ourselves up for the unbearable alife devoid of love and mutual respect? No divorce ever went through the courts because a husband or wife was too appreciative of their partner, it is usually always the reverse.

Our homes should be an oasis of peace in an often hectic and volatile world, where families who have placed God, Faith, The Sacraments of the Church and family at the centre of their lives can gain the peace of heart that only Christ can give. This peace is then rejuvenated within the family as both husband and wife appreciate each others work and efforts to help maintain a loving and cozy family atmosphere where the children feel loved and needed.

In order to understand what will make your family happy and healthy one's goal must be to raise your children to have character and integrity by serving God, their families and community. It also means ignoring what society and the worldly try and seduce families into believing that God means nothing and self comes first! As Pope John Paul II warned with these wise words, "The fear of making permanent commitments can change the mutual love of husband and wife into two loves of self-two loves existing side by side, until they end in separation."

Where have you placed your spiritual priorities?