Twice a year my church has a large televised conference teaching basic joyful life principles, especially about families. One conference was particularly terrific—until we actually involved our family. As we all listened to wise words, bickering, snickering, and outright contention were pretty much the modus operandi.
The apex came when one of the speakers said that the most important thing in life is our family. Just then our nine-year-old stood at the doorway of the room and announced, “I hate this family!” then slammed her bedroom door. We found out this outburst was completely justified because it had been about the design of a blanket fort and she had not been able to have it her way.
I thought about what the speaker had said. Did that mean we were doing it wrong because my children were being pills? Dealing with the matter at hand, we paused from watching the conference and talked with the girls (after a calming time out) about how the key to getting good things was behaving in a good way, etc., etc., etc. Ironically, not an hour later we enjoyed relative peace as the girls played in their blanket fort, the dog sighed contentedly, and I made a yummy big brunch with the hum of family chit chat surrounding me.
All was right with the world.
And it hit me—that’s a family. One minute you want to pull out your hair (or theirs), and the next you're roasting marshmallows and thinking how to make the moment last. So if there is some contention, a little door slamming, and some good old-fashioned sticking out of tongues, know that you're doing just fine.
Meanwhile, take a deep breath, give a hug, share a smile, and say something good about each family member as often as you can. They may not respond in kind but you will have set the tone. Families have stretching and growing pains, some stages lasting longer than others. So put on a smile, see the good in your stage, and move on with joy.