MONEY magazine recently released its list of “Best Places to Live in America” for 2014, and Castle Rock, Colo., a town just north of Colorado Springs, was number four on the list.
How do they determine which cities make the top ten?
MONEY starts with 781 cities and whittles down the list by looking at factors such as median family income, racial diversity, quality of education, economic opportunity, and even the residents’ level of happiness.
That got me to thinking.
We can’t all live in Castle Rock – but we can take steps to make our home a great place to live. All it takes is a little bit of vision and commitment to creating an environment that makes for a fun, caring and healthy family.
What makes a house a home?
Research tells us there are five key things that help families grow stronger: time, dinner, conversation, laughter, and prayer. When moms and dads intentionally set out to do small acts that contribute in these areas, the family benefits.
Looking at a house as the place where most families spend their together-time, we can see how parents can use everyday moments to invest in their children.
So here are, in my opinion, the four best places in the home where you can have the greatest positive impact on your children.
1. The Family Room: Make it a practice to get everyone together to enjoy regular game nights, family-friendly movies and family devotionals. The time spent together here builds the foundation for strong family relationships.
2. The Kitchen/ Dining Room: As the dad of two growing (and hungry!) sons, I can understand why the Bible often equates food with fellowship. After all, conversation naturally happens over a meal. That’s why we recommend families make it a practice to enjoy meals – especially dinner – together as often as they can.
The benefits are many: studies find that children of families who eat dinner together regularly have improved communication, fewer problems with drugs and alcohol and receive higher grades. In short, the intentional time spent together at dinner helps develop a protection against negative behaviors and encourages positive ones.
3. The Backyard: Laughter comes naturally when we’re outside playing with our children. Whether it’s throwing the ball around or jumping into a pool or a pile of leaves, the time we spend outside as a family results in smiles and fun. I encourage you to see that these times as an important part of building a strong family. Making your home a happy place filled with good memories draws the bonds of family tighter.
4. The Kids’ Room: I’ve noticed that Jean and I regularly learn of our children’s worries and fears at bedtime. Their activity level has wound down and they’re left with their thoughts. Before you kiss your kids goodnight, take some time to listen to their hearts and to pray with them.
So often all it takes to make a house a home – the best place to live – is simply seeing the opportunity in each small moment. Our “Make Every Day Count” Facebook page and free “Conversation Starters” smartphone app are designed to help moms and dads invest in their families and raise thriving kids. I hope you check them out.
I’d be interested to hear from you. How do you turn your house into a healthy, thriving home? What are some of your traditions?
If your children are grown and gone, what do you remember that really worked well? What didn’t? Your comments and feedback will be helpful to those of us currently in the middle of raising our kids.