Treat Your Family Like Strangers!

We are trained and taught from an early age to be polite and kind. We learn it at home, in school, and in church. By the time we are an adult, we hopefully have the skills to be polite and kind to people we encounter throughout our day to day lives. Most of the people I run into exercise these examples of Common Courtesy“: They smile, say Hello, Thank You, Youre welcome, etc. They hold doors open, let ladies enter first, and so on. We give compliments and smiles freely and naturally. Yes, we all run into the rare person who is having a bad day and who may be in a grump. We usually tolerate those people, and if we are in a compassionate mood, we may even be extra kind and polite in hopes of making their day better as a result of them crossing our path.

I have made an observation lately, and its not a pretty one: It takes a more deliberate effort to be polite and kind to the people we live with than to a stranger. I guess this is somewhat normal, since we are very comfortable and easily irritated with people we spend the most time with. But, as I thought about this, it made me sad to realize that we treat strangers better than the people we live with and love! I feel very much convicted as I type this, because I know that I snap at my kids and say things to them that I would not say to a stranger or to company in my home and in a tone of voice that is not acceptable.

When we are busy and have a million things to do, we can easily lose our patience. We tend to shove those we care about to the side and not take the time to be loving and nurturing. We can say things rudely instead of politely. We sometimes dont take the time to slow down, look them in the eye, and really listen. We snap and say unkind things. We worry more about our task at hand than the relationship we should be honoring. Im afraid I am terribly guilty of that.

I tell my kids all the time that the same words can be delivered with a sweet tone and a smileor with a snarl and a grump! The words are the same but the message is totally different. Heres a little test: Say this with a happy voice and a smile on your face, Hold on just a minute!“…now say those same words with a mean look on your face and a rude tone in your voice. OUCH! Can you hear and feel the difference? I sure canand the mean one makes me feel so ugly!

What is the reason behind this behavior? Why do we treat strangers better than our family at times?

I think it is because we, as humans, expect our families to always be there no matter how we treat them. We tend to take for granted that they will always be there and endure our attitudes good or bad. This seems logical, but it is not right. We are to show the utmost love and respect for those closest to us. I think we put on our best face when we interact with strangers, as first impressions last. This is not a bad thing to do, but we need to extend those same kind and polite actions and word to our loved ones.

The Bible says that yes, we need to treat strangers wonderfully:

Hebrews 13:2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

The Bible also tells us that we need to treat our families and friends just as well:

1 Thessalonians 5:13-15 Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, and be patient with everyone.
Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.

Take Action: This week and beyond, lets be aware of how we speak to and act towards our family. Lets slow down and make a conscious effort to be patient and polite and kind. Lets really listen. Lets make sure our tone of voice is soft and sweet and encouraging. If you slip up, dont beat yourself upjust correct and move forward.

Lets be Polite and Kind, and treat our family like Strangers! 


  1. Great article. You continue to do a wonderful job with your writing!!

    I have to pray over myself as a mommy often!!

  2. Gina Manzeck says:

    This is so true Deanna… I think about this often too! What is even more sad is that my almost 4 year old is starting to talk like me… the snippy me that is. Or she will say.. “mom don’t talk to me like that”… ouch!!!! Sometimes biting your tongue is the only way… uhhhh that’s tough!!!!

    This is a great reminder- thanks!

  3. Christopher Hopkins says:

    “Kill everybody with Kindness” You make a great point on your blog. My father told me, “It costs nothing to smile”

    Have a great week!


  4. Gigi Peterson says:

    Love that you wrote this. I have been taking note lately of the way my daughter talks to me. Sometimes, it’s not pretty. Where in the world would she get the idea that it’s OK to speak to her mother like that?? Oh….Maybe it’s because that is the way that I speak to her. Summers are long and hot here in AZ. I think we are feeling pretty cooped up here in the house and that really causes us/me to be grumpy. I’m going to make an extra effort to change my tone. Thanks Deanna!!

  5. Amen Sista! Good lesson this week and actually very easy to accomplish. I just needed reminding.

    Love Aunt Judy

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