Recently, I hosted several children in my home. All were teenagers. They were playing videos games and laughing ridiculously loudly! I was ready to scream the noise was so horrendous. I assumed they were all having fun until one young man came out of the family room and joined me on the living room couch. I asked him how he was doing and why he wasn’t hanging out with everyone else. He simply shrugged. I didn’t expect anything more than that as answer. I continued reading while my young guest played around with his cellphone.
Only a few minutes passed before he asked if he could go home. I was surprised, knowing they were playing their favorite video game. I assured him he could come and go as he wished but I was sad to know he was leaving. With reluctance and bribery of a fresh cinnamon roll, he shared that he was tired of being called names. The video game turned to bashing.
My heart broke for my young friend but also caused me to ponder on my home environment. Was my home normally a positive place? I preach about creating positive learning environments but did I have a positive family environment? From this pondering a few key practices changed.
I shared with my teenage sons and nephews who were visiting a few weeks later about the difference between a bridge builder and a bridge destroyer. The bridge builder says things which builds up those around them. Compliments. The bridge destroyer tears down everyone around them through negativity and bashing. Sadly, bridge destroyers also tore down the ‘bridges’ between their relationships, demolishing connections which may never be rebuilt.
We decided that we would make a few changes in our home to keep the negativity away. We started by:
- Focusing on gratitude. We quickly discovered that when we focused on gratitude that we didn’t have time to judge others and speak of them unkindly.
- Made our home a happy place by focusing on the Savior and scripture study.
- Created key words to help us recognize when we may be unintentionally hurting one another’s feelings. (We started silly by using ‘blueberry.’)
- Ensured to have family prayer nightly.
- Removed some of the television shows and video games which were not contributing to our new commitment. We found that sitcoms, although remarkably hilarious, also contain an extreme amount of hurtful and degrading remarks and language.
- Most importantly, we prayed to have this atmosphere changed to a positive one in our home.
What have we gained from it? I think the most valuable result I’ve noticed is that my children are quick to share their exasperating experiences in life as well as their failures. They no longer feel judged by their siblings.
How grateful I am for this little change in our home!