[photopress:piano_610.jpg,thumb,pp_style] By Nettie H. Francis
I’ll never forget that family night. My Dad taught the lesson. He sat down at the piano, raised his hands in the air, and then brought them down hard on the keys, banging out an awful sound. We all covered our ears and frowned. The noise was terrible.
After a moment, he lifted his hands to the keys again. This time he played a beautiful melody. The sound was lovely and refreshing. Then he turned and faced us.
“Harmony,” he said, “is a group of notes working together. It creates a beautiful sound.” We all agreed. He challenged us to make our home a house of harmony—working together, avoiding contention, and creating beautiful music.
That lesson left a profound impact on me. Even today when I hear quarreling among family members I remember the terrible noise he made on the piano, and the beautiful contrast of harmony.
Every family experiences discord. As a mother, I get especially discouraged when there
are feelings of contention, back-talk, frustration and unkind words in our home. I want to avoid those situations. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned from unharmonious times in our home.
Get Back On Course – ‘The Jones family is so perfect!’ we might think to ourselves. But no one knows the rough spots the Jones family may go through. I love an example from Stephen R. Covey’s book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families.” He teaches that every plane gets off course during flight. Only the planes that continually get back on course arrive at their destination. Every family has bad moments. But it’s the families who pick themselves up and get back on course that continue to progress.
Take a Breath – How do we get back on course? Stop. Breathe. Take a nap. Go on a walk. Go to bed. Leave and then come back and start over. Let feelings and tempers cool, and things will be better. Sometimes during family disagreements my husband will literally say, “Stop. Let’s start this discussion over.” It gives each of us a moment to take a step backwards and try again.
Courtesy Counts – Keep your tongue in check, even if your temper is boiling. I’ve noticed differing levels of courtesy in families. Some families are very up front about what they say to each other. Others are gentler in their interactions. While it’s good to be honest, it may mean that criticism is spoken too easily. Successful families are usually very kind to each other, even to the point of glossing over faults, or ignoring obvious irritations. My parents were especially courteous in how they treated each other and us, and I believe it made all the difference in our home. People aren’t perfect, but it doesn’t benefit anyone to vocally criticize one another.
Accentuate the Positive – My friend was raised in an abusive home. Many of her siblings turned bitter towards their parents. However, my friend continually speaks positively about her childhood. Several of her brothers and sisters fault her for her good attitude and tell her she’s not “facing reality.” However, the reality is that whether or not the glass is half-full or half-empty, it is half something. Why not focus on the truth that’s fulfilling and healing?
Storm And Sunshine – When one child is pouting or moody, it can be hard to feel harmony in the home. My instinct as a mother is to tell that child to shape up and change their attitude! However, when I let the child alone and simply ignore their negative mannerisms, the storm seems to blow over. Instead of drawing attention to the moody member, I continue to concentrate on the children who are responding happily. Soon the pouting child forgets their frustration, the clouds clear, and we all move on.
Ride the Waves – Some days are good. Some days are bad. In the midst of family contention, it can be easy to feel that things will never be good again! We may think we’re the worst people on earth, we’ll never feel love again, or our efforts to live the gospel aren’t making any difference. Hang on! Sooner than we anticipate, clouds of contention clear and the sunshine of good feelings shines through. Someone stops in to visit, or a friend calls and we all find ourselves past the rocky places. Every wave will ebb and flow and good times will return.
Forgive Yourself – The other day I was upset at one of my children. After scolding her, I
went into my room and felt terrible about myself. How could I ever face my children again? I had lost my temper and said things I didn’t mean. After some thoughtful moments and a prayer, I left my room and went out into the kitchen to finish making dinner. To my surprise, my children were playing happily together. Their memory of my anger seemed to be erased and they had already forgiven me emotionally and moved on. Children quickly forgive and forget hard moments. However, Satan wants us to wallow in self-doubt. But this is one way we should “become as a little child.”
Forgive yourself; forget your mistakes, and move on to happier times.
Joy in the Morning – Things are always better in the morning. “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” is a true statement. When there is tension in the home, hang on until bedtime, get a good night’s rest, and you’ll find that situations don’t seem as dim the next day.
The Magic of Music – When discord is felt, music can make a positive difference. Play a pleasant CD, sit down at the piano, whistle, hum or sing. Music can be the soft hand in times of hard feelings. Your family may not be a symphony yet, but you can still help to create a beautiful melody.