Home and Family – Building a Garden for Yourself and for G-d

Home and Family

Building a Garden for Yourself and for G-d

Chapter 1 Why is Home Life So Important?

 

Wisdom

Home = Existential Security

 

After many hours of looking for food, a bird returns to its nest, taking supreme comfort in a place that is warm and safe, far removed from the dangers and distractions of the world outside.

 

A human being should feel the same sense of warmth and security when he or she comes home.

 

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Your home and family are your nest, the center of your life, the hub from which all your daily experiences extend.

 

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Both as children and adults our home and family are where we should feel most comfortable in the world.

 

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They determine how you make your life decisions; they shape your attitudes, your awareness, your self-esteem.

 

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A healthy home is obviously a vital ingredient in the pursuit of a meaningful life.

 

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At home we learn…

 

Home is where we learn:
to cope and to be productive,
to work and play,
to be comfortable with ourselves
and with others.

 

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Home is where we learn about happiness and wholesomeness.

 

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Think about the warmth you feel when you come home after being away for a few months or even a few days.

 

How different that warmth is from what we experience in the world outside!

 

Our home is a secure base that gives us the confidence to explore the terrain of an unpredictable and often dangerous world.

 

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The Hidden Benefit of a Healthy Home

 

Just as a healthy person may take his health for granted, many of us fail to appreciate the beauty of a nurturing home.

 

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Our parent’s attitudes and love provide us with a foundation from which we build our own lives.

 

And like a foundation, though invisible, it holds up who we are although we don’t see it.

 

To appreciate the strength of a truly loving home, we only need to see a situation where a home did not serve its function.

 

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Many people today never had a true home, a comfortable environment where they knew they were wanted, needed, and loved; where there was nothing to fear and where problems were dealt with directly rather than ignored or denied; where they could learn to love and be loved.

 

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Whose Responsibility is it to set up a Healthy home?

 

It is the parent’s responsibility to build a happy and healthy home – not only for the sake of their children but for themselves and for the guests who will enter their home.

 

Especially in these troubled times, when so few people have healthy homes of their own, it is your duty to set an example.

 

Practice and Theory

 

Cultivating the attitude that builds a Healthy home

 

Having a healthy home depends largely on your attitude toward it.

 

Do you feel that your home is your true home? The most peaceful place in the world, or just another station along the way, where you do a few things before moving on?

 

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A true home must be the center of your life or it will inevitably be a liability or a burden.

 

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You must learn to respect your home, to see it as your partner!

 

Part of respecting the home is respecting the commitment to build a family – the blessing that G-d had given to have children, to fill the home with warmth and love!

 

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We tend to compartmentalize our lives, seeing ourselves as distinct from our environment and our home.

 

This separation only adds to the anxiety of dealing with a complicated world, it makes us feel that we have no place where we are truly safe and comfortable.

 

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Even when we are at home, we have one foot out the door.

 

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It’s important to remember: Your work may be important and necessary for survival, but the workplace is not your home.

 

Neither is the restaurant where you eat, the museum you visit, or the vacation spot your visit.

 

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Many people today have replaced their homes with their careers or hobbies – perhaps because they, as children, never had comfortable homes, or because their parents put their careers and personal hobbies before home and family.

 

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Why should your home be the center of your life when there are so many exciting things to do and learn outside the home?

 

Because in order to fully enjoy anything in life you must feel entirely comfortable with yourself, and you learn to be this way at home, a place free from the distractions and struggles of the outside world.

 

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What does it mean to be comfortable with yourself?

 

It means being comfortable with your soul, the G-dliness within you.

 

It means that the outer you, the part that deals with the material world, is at peace with the inner you, the real you.

 

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And that makes you a comfortable place for G-d to dwell in.

 

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When you radiate from within, you warm your entire home. Filling it with a peace and gentleness that will be felt by all those who enter.

 

Chapter 2 How Does One Build A Healthy Home?

 

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A Healthy Home Has Peace

 

One must do everything possible to ensure peace at home.

 

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There are three key elements in building a peaceful home life:

 

1. The relationship between family members,

 

2. The atmosphere of the home itself,

 

3. And the way home functions.

 

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1. The tone of the relationships within the family is set by the parents – how they love and respect each other and how they communicate.

 

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A husband and wife must make their relationship their highest priority. They must spend time together, having meaningful talks and taking time to enjoy each other’s company.

 

Yes, they must share the household and financial responsibilities, but they must also share themselves – the personal and philosophical issues that are important to them.

 

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Everyone recognizes the tragedy of the breakdown of the family and its devastating effects on children and parents alike.

Practice and Theory

 

Now we are witnessing a return to more traditional beliefs.

 

Greater efforts are being made towards lasting marriages; couples are deciding to have more children, and to spend more time with them.

 

But the desire to spend time together is not enough.

 

Even when parents genuinely love their children they may have trouble communicating.

 

The reasons can be obvious: when a family’s most important discussions concern where to take a vacation or what size television set to buy, a family will naturally grow apart.

 

This is a product both of our materialistic society and of our natural self-interest.

 

When every member of a family is concerned primarily with himself, the family is bound to suffer.

 

When the father stays late at the office, when the mother is wrapped up in her career or community work, when the children care mainly about parties or school projects they cannot maintain a profound relationship within the family.

 

They may sleep under the same roof and eat at the same table, yet be worlds apart.

 

When a family shares principles and values, though, they grow together.

 

The home becomes a foundation for the family’s shared sense of purpose while also providing a springboard for each member to pursue his or her own goals.

 

In such homes, families stay up late talking heart to heart about what’s on their minds.

 

Children crowd around grandparents to hear stories.

 

The whole family gets together – and not just on holidays – for evenings of songs, games and reminiscing.

 

The home becomes alive, a source of energy and hope, of urgency and love and of tradition.

 

It is not the quietude of a home that makes it peaceful; it is the life within.

 

 

Practice and Theory

 

2. The second element of a healthy home is its atmosphere.

 

A home must be warm and inviting for both the family and its visitors.

 

Think about how displaced you feel when you are traveling, separated from all the things you know and the people you love.

 

Your home should be a place where any guest can feel at peace.

 

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A true home is more than simply a house; a true home is a beautiful home; A Garden.

 

Practice and Theory

 

A healthy family dynamic, of course is the key determinant making a beautiful home, but the physical environment is also important – the spirit and look of the home.

 

This doesn’t mean that you must have a large and expensively furnished home, only that its furnishings should reflect the spirit of your family.

 

A museum might have beautiful furnishings, but you would hardly want to live there.

 

Practice and Theory

 

A beautiful home must also be free from influences that can pollute its wholesomeness and spiritual grace.

 

For instance: Everyone today recognizes the damaging effect that television has on impressionable children, and for that matter on teenagers and adults.

 

Television must not be allowed to rule the home.

 

While it may be very difficult for some to accept, it would be best to have no television set at all, rather than try to watch only positive programs.

Practice

 

The ultimate beauty in a home, of course is its emotional and spiritual warmth.

 

Practice and Theory

 

There are many ways to beautify your home spiritually, to invite G-d into your home.

 

  • Place a charity box in each room.

 

  • Talk with your family about G-d.

 

  • Talk to your family about our responsibility as good-hearted people.

 

  • Invite guests into your home.

 

  • Allow it to be used as a place of study.

 

  • Allow it to be used as a place of prayer.

 

  • Hold charitable functions.

 

  • Hold community meetings.

 

Practice and Theory

 

These are things that make your home truly beautiful – and they cost far less than expensive furniture or a television set.

 

Think how children will react to such an atmosphere.

 

They will grow up to remember their home as a place of warmth and kindness, where people felt comfortable to gather and talk about things that mattered to them.

 

In all likelihood these children will grow into adults who create the same sort of home.

 

Practice and Theory

 

3. Finally, the way a home is run is vey important.

 

This includes all the “trivial” aspects of keeping a home – daily schedules and chores, cleaning and shopping and so on.

 

A healthy home must be smoothly run, not driven by hectic independent interest.

 

Everyone must share these responsibilities – not out of duty but lovingly because a healthy home is a quest for unity, and all members of the household are equal partners in its success.

 

Chapter 3 What Happens When Problems Arise In the Home?

 

Practice and Theory

 

The Effect of Parental Love and Attitudes on their Children

 

Children’s misbehavior is often a result of parental attitudes. Without changing these attitudes we cannot hope for any serious change in children. Parents must look beyond their own ego when dealing with their children.

 

To Assess A Problem Child, A Parent Must Remove His Ego Entirely

 

Only then can they truly assess the problem at hand and determine a plan of action. A parent must avoid getting into a battle with a child.

 

The Communication Onus Is on The Parent Who Has More Knowledge

 

In a relationship between a parent and child, the responsibility to communicate always lies with the parent, the one with more experience and knowledge.

 

Speak Sensitively – Children Pick Up Your Feelings Immediately

 

Perhaps you didn’t speak sensitively enough.

 

Perhaps you need to find a new way of talking, a new perspective.

 

It is often wise to seek the help of someone outside of your family, someone who can judge the problem objectively, one who is spiritually sensitive and understands your family’s goal and values.

 

Practice

 

Get Role-Models to Communicate to Teenagers

 

Experience has shown that teenagers, especially today, are more likely to accept guidance from older friends and relatives than from their parents.

 

Practice and Theory

Perhaps they feel that their parents are too determined to impose authority, too judgmental or too quick to think of teenagers as immature. This is yet another reason for building a healthy home life – so it becomes a relaxed place for visiting friends and relatives, who can offer support to children in need of an older person’s advice.

 

Practice and Theory

 

Love – The most powerful remedy

 

Above all, love is the most powerful tool with which to battle problems. Yes, a healthy home must be run with discipline, but even that discipline must contain love.

 

This cannot be manufactured or superficial, for children are highly sensitive to honest emotions.

 

On the other hand, they will react with pure joy when they receive the genuine love of their parents, and they will reciprocate etc.

 

As is written in Proverbs, “As water mirrors a face, a heart responds to another.”

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