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Personal Development

No Task for Wimps: 4 Ways to Build a Stronger Family

5 Minute Read

Money isn’t the only aspect of our lives in which we should set goals to create a well-balanced life over time. Zig Ziglar’s Wheel of Life gives us a guideline for the seven areas of life where goals are important to grow as an individual: career, financial, spiritual, physical, intellectual, family and social. Today’s post focuses on the family aspect.

After Christmas, I need a new start.

Christmas has a peculiar way of making all that is important in life bubble to the surface. It is a day when the laser pointer comes out and illuminates exactly what is right and wrong in our lives, especially when it comes to family. Grandma isn’t here anymore, and it hurts. Dad drinks too much, and we desperately want him to show up to Christmas dinner sober. Our son won’t come home because he can’t get over the argument we had about his career choice. He is convinced we don’t accept him as he is.

For one day, everything that matters is crystal clear, and all that is unimportant fades into the dark. No other day in the year does this like Christmas Day. That’s why so many men, women and kids struggle with anxiety, sadness and depression at this time. We can’t ignore what we so desperately want to be made right.

I have good news for all who have struggled this past year. A new day is here, and this is the time to make some serious, life-changing decisions.

If you have a troubled relationship in your family that has caused you grief over the past year, get ready. It’s time to roll up your emotional sleeves and put broken hearts (including yours) back together. But I warn you, creating a better family isn’t a task for wimps. It’s grueling and at times gut-wrenching, but there’s no better reward this side of heaven.

If you are a parent and you’re struggling with your kids, here are a few foolproof ways you can start to put things right—or make what’s already good with your kids even better.

Take 10.

There is a simple formula for finding out what really needs to be changed in your life. Take 10 minutes a day and begin to pray. Pray for yourself. Ask God what He wants from you and what needs improvement in you. Then, ask Him to help you get there. Nothing changes us like prayer. It isn’t magical, but it almost feels that way sometimes. If you pray for your wife to change, watch out; you will change. That’s the mystery of prayer. Regardless what we go to God for help with, He helps us.

Get specific.

Most of us fail to make the changes we want in our relationships because we are vague about what’s wrong. So get very, very specific about what the problem is and how it relates to you, then take responsibility for changing that problem. Do you fly off the handle too easily when one of your kids challenges you? Do you constantly criticize your youngest? Do you indulge your son too much but never your daughter? You can’t change what you don’t recognize, so name the problem as clearly as you can. And if you need help from an outsider like a friend or counselor, get it.

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Think small.

Most of us who want to make changes of any kind think much too big. So don’t. Take small steps in your relationships. Say one nice thing to your spouse each day. Don’t decide to hold your temper for a whole month. Just say something encouraging each day for a week. Challenge yourself to count to 10 before responding to something that your child says which makes you mad. Decide to spend half an hour each weekend alone with one of your children. Eat one more meal per week together as a family. Think about taking small bites of a challenge, and you’re far more likely to succeed.

Take charge.

Remember that you, Mom or Dad, are the leader for change in the family—not your kids. Sure, you want them to be more polite and less self-centered, but they only change in response to you. You can’t motivate them, but you can show them how to follow your example. Want them to be more polite? Then change the way you talk at home. Do you want more respect from them? Then show your spouse more respect and tell them that no one in the family—starting with you—can be disrespectful to one another.

If you are a parent, chances are you are a well-disciplined individual. So stop doubting whether you can or can’t make a difference in your family. Of course you can. After all, doing the hard stuff is what you are really good at. So get started.

Pediatrician, wife, mother and best-selling author of six books, Dr. Meg Meeker is one of the country’s leading experts on parenting, teens and children’s health. Find out more about her at