Build a firm foundation for your house of love

You probably remember the story in the bible where the foolish man builds his house on the sand and when the storms come and the rivers rise, the house is washed away. The wise man builds his house on solid rock and when the storms come, the house stands firm and unshakable. 

 When we are building our “house of love,” which is the environment we create to house our children’s spirits, we would do well to consider whether we are building the foundation on shifting sand or solid rock. 

 Our relationship with our child is the foundation upon which all else depends. If the parent-child bond is strong and secure, then the foundation will be sturdy and we will be able to weather the many storms that come our way. If the relationship is weak and the parent-child bond is eroded, then we may be in trouble when the storms come. Often, we don’t see the stormclouds on the horizon and we squander the time we could be working to build a strong foundation until it is too late.  Or, we find that it’s so much easier to dig in the sandy soil; why take the time and hard work to dig into hard rock?

But trust me, the time and effort you put into building a strong relationship today will be worth it in the teenage years! That is when you may find that the tools and techniques you have come to rely on in the younger years don’t work so well anymore.  And if you’re not in “right” relationship with your child, it doesn’t matter how many tools and skills you’ve managed to acquire as a parent, tools and skills alone will not solve your problems and conflicts.  In fact, they will start to backfire.

So if you’ve become caught up in what to “do” in order to get your kids to listen to you or to behave better, I encourage you to shift your focus from controlling behavior to building the relationship.  The time you spend building connection, respect, and trust with your child will actually allow you to pull out those tools less often and use them sparingly. 

I know it’s hard to see how you can possibly find the time to work on relationship when you’re in the midst of the day in and day out frenetic pace of family life.  It seems much easier and more efficient to use the tools that get immediate compliance so you can get out the door, or you can cook dinner in peace.  But taking the time to strengthen the bond between you and your child will actually get you much the same results and will also bring the joy back into parenting. Think of it this way:  you can spend time one way or the other–“being” with your child in a loving, connecting way (which will decrease the acting out behaviors) or “doing” something to get your kid to behave (when he’s acting out his need for connection).  Either way, you’re going to spend the time.

How do you want to spend your time with your child?  Getting easier compliance momentarily on shifting sand? or building a lasting relationship on solid rock?


Spend at least 10 minutes every day with each child one-on-one.  Turn off your phone, turn off the stove, and get down eyeball to eyeball with your child and have fun!  I know a lot of parents use this special time at bedtime to read and cuddle and calm.  I invite you to also consider building in this special time at the pressure-cooker points in your day when there seems to be the most tension.  For lots of families this is in the morning and the “bewitching” hour around dinnertime. You can do a lot to prevent those meltdowns by proactively spending quality connecting time with each child before the bewitching hour!  Get up a little earlier and build in 10 minutes of play time, whether that’s playing I Spy, or racing cars, or having a tea party for breakfast.  Before you begin cooking dinner, spend 10 minutes to build a fort or play chase in the yard.  Proactive parenting is so much more enjoyable than reactive parenting!

 “It is not so much what we do, but rather WHO WE ARE to our children that matters most.”  (Dr. Gordon Neufeld, author of Hold on to Your Kids)

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