By Joey and Carla Link
March 22, 2023
What identifies your family? Why is this important to know? “Identity” is the qualities, beliefs, personality traits, appearance, and/or expressions that characterize a person or group. In sociology, emphasis is placed on collective identity, in which an individual’s identity is strongly associated with the group memberships (family) that define them. (Wikipedia)
So, what does that mean? It means everyone in the family has common goals, values, traditions and more that brings them together. Why is this important? When family members are interdependent, meaning they function as independent people who come together as one to support and encourage each other, they are there for each other as they marry and start their own families. In our family, we showed support for the interests and activities of the other family members by supporting them with our attendance, whenever possible when they participated in something. This meant siblings went to each other’s events, as well as Joey and I. A strong identity as a family will keep the family together throughout your kids’ adult years.
When family members function independently of one another, then it is every man for himself. Independent families pay a high price with broken relationships, lack of communication, lack of support, different moral values and a desire on the part of all family members to be with others outside the family.
The following are ways to work on strengthening your family’s identity (unity).
Show Emotional Support for Each Other
Emotional support is critical for a family to function as one. Withdrawing emotional support breaks relationships and trust in each other. Emotional support includes being there for each other, cheering each other on, and lifting each other up. A family is fun to be with when everyone enjoys each other’s company and gets along with each other. This takes work and effort on the part of ALL family members.
- Be encouragers. As individuals, we cannot live without encouragement. It lifts us up when we are down. It makes us strong when we are weak. If someone in your family is not feeling encouraged by the others, they will look elsewhere for it.
“Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up,
just as in fact you are now doing.”
I Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
- Be positive. In her book, “Growing a Family Where People Really Like Each Other”, Karen Dockery, has this to say about being positive, “Make a commitment to God to recognize, talk about, and enjoy the good in your family. Growing a family where people like each other has to start with me. Recognize that negative words undermine a child’s joy and security as certainly as waves pull sand from the seashore.” Being positive starts with our tongue. Sarcasm, harsh tones and the like spread like wildfire in a family and soon everyone is focused on the negative instead of the positive. Start the trend in the other direction. At the dinner table tonight, ask the question, “What good thing happened in your life today?” It was a rule at the Link family dinner table that a person had to share three good things that had happened to them that day before they could share anything bad.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Do Things Together for Fun
Find common activities that everyone enjoyed. Ride bikes together. Our son and Joey liked to play frisbee golf. The girls and I did things together too. As grown adults with their own families, they still love to play table games when they are together. Weekly or bi-weekly family nights are great times to have fun together. Each of our kids had a week of the month to plan our family night.
We recently took 4 of our grandkids on an overnight to a hotel. We ate pizza in the room, went swimming and had fun squirting each other with bottles Papa brought to do this with and went back to the room, got in our pjs and all crawled into one bed to watch a movie. Our grands are still talking about this trip.
Do Things Together for God
After dinner a couple nights a week, Joey would read from a book like “Little Pilgrim’s Progress”. Our kids still remember most of the books we went through together as a family. Have family devotions at least one night a week. Our family asked our pastor for the names of a couple elderly widows in our church who didn’t have family nearby. We invited them to join us for lunch once a month. Our kids colored each lady placemats, played the piano and sang for them and often did skits or plays for them. These ladies were our kids friends until they went to live with Jesus.
The information in this blog is taken from the Mom’s Notes presentation, “Building Family Identity” by Joey and Carla Link. There is a lot more information in this presentation if you want more practical ideas on building an identity that will keep your family strong.