Beyond role playing we build our family’s belief system by promoting family unity and pride. A correction is given by saying, “We don’t do that, we….” One day our daughter was bummed because some children at church were making fun of Barney, (the purple dinosaur) and my husband wisely counseled her, “Honey, it is what our family thinks that matters. If we enjoy Barney then it doesn’t matter what others think.” I will often say, “I’m proud to be your Mommy” or “I love being your Mommy, God’s so good to me” or “Our family is great! Isn’t it great to be a Doebler?” Todd, my husband, is even more natural at promoting “Doebler pride” than I am. He will encourage our working as a team and insist that we stand up for each other. Last week, J.T. became frightened by the neighbor’s dog and was crying. When the ordeal was over, Todd’s response to our daughter was, “Girls, you were out there, but J.T. was standing alone and afraid. We protect each other. Next time, I want you to run to protect and comfort your brother when he is afraid.”
“We” also have daily family rituals that make us the Doeblers. We hold hands when we pray and when we’re done….we clap. We often forget this is unusual until our company sits and stares. Hugs and kisses are expected whenever anyone comes or goes, often with one more BIG kiss being requested. Friends of our carry this idea a step further with this cute little saying whenever someone leaves even just to go to bed; “Blow a kiss, Got yours, Right by my heart, Because I love you, much, much more.” That is glue holding that family together with their own special unity ritual.
One last example of how we are promoting strong character through family unity in our children has to do with tattling. In Romans 12:19 God says, ”Don’t worry about getting even, I’ll do the judging.” I realized I needed to be this buffer for my children. They needed to know they can come to me when they want to take things in to their own hands, and I will take care of it. There are steps we’ve laid down for them before they can come to us. They must ask the offender to please stop and give them a chance to respond before they run to us. If someone runs to me saying, “So and so is taking from me,” my first response is, “Did you ask them to please not take from you?” If the answer is no, I will send them away with an encouragement loud enough for the other child to hear, “You kindly ask them to please stop and they will be glad to stop.” Now if they have already said, “Please don’t and the situation hasn’t remedied itself then it is time for me to investigate. I get both sides of the story, and most often both children are guilty of an offence and are disciplined for their role. It is important not to assume that only the one being tattled on is guilty or tattling will become a competition to blame someone else instead of a help in time of trouble. Ultimately we are after our children’s hearts, so along with their actions we talk about their motives. A common reminder is: “We don’t enjoy seeing our sibling get into trouble, and we try to help each other do what is right.”