“Children’s children are the crown of old men, and the glory of children is their father.” Psalm 17:6
A family is a haven for a soul to flower and boom. Members of a family nurture one another physically, celebrate emotionally, stimulate intellectually and motivate purposefully. In such families, everyone can grow secure knowing s/he is loved and valued. Those that are secure are outgoing and experimenting and thereby more friendly and confident. Soon they make a sense of their life and get hooked on to a purpose. Not surprisingly, children from such families go on to build more such fun-filled families. And the legacy continues.
Fathers and mothers, both, must play their part. Traditionally, father was the sole bread-winner and mother a home maker and by default, the significant parent for the children looking after their all-round development. Father was seen as the head of the house and sometimes as a respected figurehead. In a modern home, both parents work but unfortunately, the mother has to still carry on the task of parenting almost all on her own. Fathers rarely play a significant role except when there are crises. This must change.In a modern home, both parents work but unfortunately, the mother has to still carry on the task of parenting almost all on her own. Fathers rarely play a significant role except when there are crises. This must change.
A family is a team. All must work together and play their part. Like in any team sport, all players have their speciality of skill like a bowler, wicket-keeper or a batsman. They are expected to perform in their skillful role. When all players excel in their speciality, the team wins. Even if the batsmen score centuries, if the bowlers do not take wickets, all those centuries would be in vain. Sometimes, batsmen fail. Then bowlers who are usually tail-enders even bat well and bring home the trophy. They rise to the occasion in a crisis.
A family can learn a lot from sport. In fact, when members of a family play any sport, they come across as a great team. When Nabal failed as a husband, Abigail pitched in for him (1 Samuel 25). Aquila and Priscilla come across as a great team (Acts 18).
Young parents in a modern home must be prepared to set aside traditions, rigidity and egos to take up mutual (as opposed to equal) responsibility in shaping the personalities of their children. Sharing of responsibilities is mutual when all tasks and responsibilities are listed and the parents pick and choose as per their strengths and what is practical to all. One must be very clear what a responsibility is and what is a task.Young parents in a modern home must be prepared to set aside traditions, rigidity and egos to take up mutual (as opposed to equal) responsibility in shaping the personalities of their children.
Let’s take the example of children’s education. Children’s education is a responsibility but attending parent-teacher meeting is one of the tasks under that responsibility. In principle, a parent is expected to list and carry out the tasks needed to effectively fulfill that responsibility. However, some of those tasks could be delegated to spouse, grandparents and older children.
May be the father has the responsibility of family finances. Preparing a budget, paying tithes and paying bills are a few tasks under that responsibility. He could delegate one or two tasks but he is responsible for the finances of the house. Delegation of tasks must be done for smooth functioning but not to escape and overburden any one member of the family. When any one parent is overburdened, the marriage suffers and it in-turn leads to family discord affecting the child.
Strong teams are shaped by a shared vision and a purpose. For example, if a family gives itself a vision like: “We will be a godly family” then everyone will make it a point to view if what they are saying and doing is acceptable and pleasing to God. This can become a common thread in conversations, making choices and arriving at mutually agreeable plans.
For example, if this family makes a vacation plan to go to Kolkata they will probably make it a point to visit, among other tourist spots, Sisters of Charity, a home that was headed by Mother Theresa. Wherever they are, they will make it a point to attend a Sunday morning worship service. As they all agreed to be a godly family, even making such decisions on the go will be much easier.
“All for one, one for all”
“All for one, one for all” is the credo of three musketeers. It is apt for families too. When someone is sick in the family, all pitch in to care for that member. Someone to take him to the doctor, someone to look after the diet, someone to attend to her/him. Children could be asked to write notes of the lessons that s/he has missed. Basically make sure every effort is made to make it easy to go through the sickness and help in getting back to normal routine. This may mean missing play time, TV time or game time for other members.
Exam times are stressful. So are tournament times. Parents and siblings must be there for all who are going through such testing times. Cheering them, encouraging them and praying with them will help tide over difficult times. Coaches and teachers do help in moments of setbacks and losses. But the comfort, reassurance of a parent and sibling is very therapeutic.Parents must learn to debrief a child after all significant events. In fact, it is important that every member has that joy of talking about what happened.
Parents must learn to debrief a child after all significant events. In fact, it is important that every member has that joy of talking about what happened. Whether it is a sad or a happy turn of events, it does a world of good, emotionally to just talk. Strong families know how to take failures with successes. They are a team.
A Christian family must worship God together. Regular family prayer is very essential for growing strong in the Lord. Such times define our identity as a family and as an individual. Bible is studied together may be through a devotional or through group study of passages. Joys and griefs are shared and taken to the Lord for His attention and action. Scripture should be the script for life.Parents must encourage sincere discussion where scripture is applied to life situations as they happen in life.
Parents must encourage sincere discussion where scripture is applied to life situations as they happen in life. Every member of the family must have their own Bible which they use for daily reading and study. Father must play a significant part in spiritual nurture of the family. Mother can orchestrate and facilitate the devotional time. As children grow, opportunity can be given to all members to conduct the family prayer times. Home is a good place to nurture spiritual leadership. Consider the time when Abraham was taking Isaac to be sacrificed. Isaac did not even utter a word of protest as he was bound and placed on the wood. I wonder if Abraham had so taught him to trust the Lord as he himself did (Genesis 22).Often parents outsource spiritual nurture to church, Sunday school and Youth Fellowship. The spiritual inputs at these groups are a good supplement to the spiritual nurture at home, but they cannot become a substitute.
Often parents outsource spiritual nurture to church, Sunday school and Youth Fellowship. The spiritual inputs at these groups are a good supplement to the spiritual nurture at home, but they cannot become a substitute. Once that is in place, all members must actively participate in the learning and serving ministry of the church.
A good church educates, equips and encourages her members. Families must participate in such programs of the church and grow stronger in spiritual life. The church also provides opportunities to minister both to the members of the church and the community. Children can be encouraged to discover their spiritual gifts and serve the church with them. In the meantime, they must employ all their natural talents like singing, quizzing, drawing, painting, dancing, etc., to contribute to church programs, especially in outreach and mission programs.When parents invest their lives in children, they become sharp instruments in the hands of the Lord.
Parents must be very careful not to neglect children and go out on ministry work. The greatest ministry is among children and family and that is the most challenging mission field. When parents invest their lives in children, they become sharp instruments in the hands of the Lord. If not, children may not turn out godly and they will be a poor testimony to God. Parents must see children as co-players in the team and must get involved in the ministry as a family. Their involvement in church and ministry must be an expression of their family living.