Managing Tensions

Last year I had the opportunity to hear Andy Stanley, senior pastor at North Point Community Church, speak at a leadership conference. He explained that all organizations have tensions which they must manage. These tensions are problems which continue to surface and do not and should not go away.

I was thinking that this is very true for families. A few examples of ongoing tensions in many families are:

-giving your best at work and spending time with family
-getting your children involved in activities and giving them free time to play
-spending money and saving for the future
-Taking “me time” and giving of yourself
-giving your children independence and protecting them
-Keeping the house clean and allowing the craziness of life to happen

For many of us, our natural tendency to is want to fix problems as they arise. However, the goal with a tension should be to manage it, acknowledging that it is not going to go away. This was an important realization for me because I find it freeing to know that I can let myself off the hook for actually fixing the problem once and for all.

A lot is written these days to help people find balance in their lives. While that has some merit when thinking about managing tensions, it is better to think in terms of rhythm. Sometimes your children will be very busy with activities, other times they will have a plenty of free time. Sometimes you are enjoying quality “me time” each day spending time gardening, reading a book or biking; other times you seem to be going full speed from the moment you get up until you hit the pillow at night.

It is important that you identify the tensions that your family is dealing with so you can talk about how to manage them, rather than just seeing a problem that won’t seem to go away. Moving from frustration to managing the tensions is an important step in feeling better about your family life and even making better choices.

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