The starting place for an explanation on Family Language is Genesis 11:6.
“The LORD said, ‘If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.'”
One of my goals as a parent is to create a home where my husband and children feel warm and understood and can communicate with ease. One of the tools that I’ve used to create that is the concept of Family Language – the use of shared experiences as reference points that aide in a sense of community and understanding.
So far in this series I have spoken about how reading to your kids accomplishes this goal, and how using family travel effectively accomplishes this. I’m going to throw a few more suggestions out that I’ve found efficient in helping us feel connected.
#3 Creating memories. One of the tools that I’ve used to create family memories is scrapbooking. You can look back to a post I’ve written about this topic to hear why I got started, but what I’ve found is that in my ability to capture memories in photos and journalling together, we have a tangible reference point at which to gather. That ability to know the history of who we are as a family is a huge stabilizing factor in communicating easily.
Besides this, one of my husband’s passions is having pictures of our family and our activities up around the house. In his home, pictures weren’t put up. He felt that it played a part in the scattering of his family relationships and in a lack of achoring to who they were as a family. Therefore, he champions picture taking and getting the photos placed in frames.
Another event that we put in place in our home to create memories is Family Day. This day began soon after we moved to the northeast from our previous home in the south. The kids and I were talking about celebrating who we were as a family, as well as encouraging each other as we had sad days because of our move, and the idea was birthed. What we do is celebrate all day on June 1st, the anniversary of our landing in the northeast. On that day is when we hold family elections and we have a secret gift exchange. It is our way to celebrate who we are, remember what great things have happened to us in the past year, and plan and dream for the new year.
#4 Telling stories of your family’s history. This suggestion is very closely related to the suggestion above. We talk often about both my husband’s and my family history, as well as talking through shared experiences of our own family. Laughing together over silly things we did or said, celebrating again over the victories we’ve shared, and talking about the major decisions we’ve made over the years is so anchoring and binding. Besides, it reminds all of the family members how we’ve pulled together to create the life that we presently live.
#5 Watch movies/TV shows together so that you can discuss them. This seems like an obvious suggestion, but if you’re going to spend family time with media, do it together to make them shared experiences.
Just tonight I sat with my teen kids and watched Anastasia, because we’d never seen it before (and somehow it got into our Netflix queue). It would’ve been so much easier and so much more productive if I had set up the video for them and then scooted out; however, I would’ve missed cuddles as well as discussions about the spiritual aspects of the movie. And I guarantee you, there will be quotes repeated from the movie for days that I wouldn’t understand if I hadn’t taken the time to watch the movie with them.
When it all boils down to it, that is what Family Language is all about. It is getting all of the secret jokes, it is being on the “in” of family conversations, and it is knowing each other’s experiences enough to have an ease in understanding and being understood. It is creating for your family the mentality that these people GET me.
Some of this happens automatically. Some of it would never happen without intentionality. I encourage you to follow through with the thoughts that have come to your mind over the past few days as to how to accomplish this for your family. And then drop me a line so that I can either publish your ideas (with permission, of course) or steal them for my own family! We all are better together and with each other’s ideas.