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That's a great question. When was the last time you laughed with your family? I don't mean chuckled over something funny that happen at some point during the day. I mean, you laughed! From the gut, teary-eyed, can't catch your breath, and now your making funny snorting sounds laughed!!
As I regularly evaluate my role in our family as husband and father, I am always asking the question, "What memories are we making as a family?" I think of that because too often, I find that we spend more time as parents correcting, disciplining, saying no, and arguing with our teens and pre-teen kids. Life is super crazy, and keeping the schedules intact and everyone where they need to be is a big deal sometimes. Add to that, all the craziness of life at home; the chores, responsibilities, homework, and personality issues, and you'll find that your plate is over flowing with challenge. But what I am learning is that in those moments of challenge, we as husbands and fathers, have a decision to make. Do we allow the overwhelming stresses of life crush the joy in our kids, or can we find the time to celebrate and laugh?
My wife often reminds of Ephesians 6:4. "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."
As a father my attitude, my behavior, my speech, my faith, have the opportunity to influence how my kids grow is something that is becoming more and more real. Over the last year, I have seen both of my teenage boys struggle with issues of anger, bitterness, and apathy, and I can't help but wonder, if the stress that I have felt in the last year has been transmitted onto them. I have heard from both my wife and kids, that they have noticed that I have been more short tempered than ever before. And my wife, is often asking, what has me so stressed out? All of this is leading my family to a place of brokenness, and I am no longer willing to allow this to be the case.
I think Ephesians is one of those verses that is sometimes looked at with too narrow a view. My wife likes to remind me of the, "do not exasperate your children," after I've had to deal with an issue that got out of hand. (That's a nice way of saying, I lost control and ended up yelling at one of my kids.) But I think it's more than that. I don't think the verse is simply an instruction to not yell out our kids, or deal harshly with them. I think we need to consider the second part of Paul's instruction, the, "bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."
I titled this blog, When Was the Last Time You Laughed With Your Family, not so much to encourage more laughter in your home, but to encourage you as a husband and father to think about what you're intentionality in creating moments that become treasures in your families database.
Over the last couple of weeks, by God's grace, we have had more moments of laughter. It feels good. It makes us feel closer. And as a father, I want that. I want to see my kids laughing, and I want my kids to see me laugh. I want my kids to see, both, me and my wife laugh. So as I think about those moments, I want to be intentional about allowing myself to let go of the stresses of life and being in the moments of joy with my kids.
Take time in the days ahead to laugh with your family. Sit at the dinner table a little longer. Listen as they tell you about their day. Ask, What was the funniest thing that happened today at school? And laugh with them. Enjoy your family and the moments that become those memories. By learning how to laugh with your family, you take another step in becoming a good husband.