Have you ever looked at your family and asked, are we normal? Ever since getting married and becoming a parent, Summer (my wife) and I have been trying to figure out how to do this thing called FAMILY. What we have found is it’s constant adjustment, work, negotiation and sometimes struggle. But there is no greater joy for me than loving one woman, parenting my three (soon to be four, yes, we are adopting) children, and watching them grow up into young men and women of God. So, I am in the trenches with you figuring it out! Lilly is 12, Titus is 10, and Lydia is 5 going on 12.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it…” Proverbs 22:6
So that leads me to a question, what should we as parents be doing to lead our families and how do we know we are doing it right? Understand there is pain in the process!
4 Practices of a Healthy Family
#1 Practice the Gospel: The most important thing you can teach your children is to love Jesus and to love others. You have to teach them the story of God! Practicing the Gospel means we serve together and it teaches why. We are trying hard to develop a culture of serving, sacrifice and putting others needs before our own. This is my primary job in the home as the father. Here is a key: My kids and wife are watching me to see if I model this. If I do, they eventually follow. Here are some practical ways to live the Gospel in your home.
- Read the Word Together – It isn’t the church’s job to teach my kids the Bible, it’s my number 1 job! Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart.” The only way you trust is if you know what HE SAYS!
- A Culture of Serving – There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t ask my kids to do something. They have to see the home exists for them to learn the skill of serving one another. My greatest moment as a parent is when one child says something like, “Lydia, do you want me to make you dinner?” (Usually Lilly) LOVE THIS!
- Live as the Church – Don’t expect your children to grow up spiritually mature, valuing the body of Christ if you only make it once a month when it’s convenient for you to go to Sunday services or an occasional small group meeting. The family of God is essential to your encouragement and your kids NEED other adults and kids to help them do life. Especially when they are teens, you better be praying God gives them other adults to guide them when they won’t listen to you. Worship is a rhythm, get in one.
- Pray Together – If you give your children the simple skill of how to talk to God, you will set your family up for success. When you go through a rough time, pray. When mom loses her job, pray. When you are disappointed, pray. Don’t shelter them from EVERYTHING. Remember your job is to show them the faithfulness of God over a long period of time. You have 18 years!
#2 Practice Peace: Can’t we all just get along! I come from a family of “expressive” people. I am an extrovert by nature. However over expression does NOT lead to a peaceful environment. This doesn’t mean parents are pushovers who just give in to the children, absolutely not. Stand firm, explain why, and experience the tension in peace. A home that has healthy and safe expressions of conflict will lead to a house of peace. Proverbs 11:29 says, “whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind.” No thank you! Some peace practices:
- Always Listen and Seek to Understand – Number one complaint of my kids, “you aren’t listening to me.”
- Calm is Safe – What I have found is nothing good ever comes from yelling. I usually yell not because it is what is good for them, but it is what I want to do. “A gentle answer turns away wrath…” take that Proverb to the bank.
- Ask Good Questions – Knowing and teaching your family why they feel a certain way is just as important as the feeling itself.
- Keep Short Accounts – Please don’t bring up last month or last year. Nothing good will come of this because you are proving you are keeping score and when we keep score there are winners and losers. You are making your family a competition not a cooperation. Confess your sins, ask forgiveness of each other, then give each other permission to change.
#3 Practice Love: I’ll give you one word here: ENCOURAGEMENT! (I wrote a whole blog on this topic last week) How I love Summer dictates the temperature of love in the family. My kids know when love is abounding and when its been too long since the last encouragement. Let me just ask you a series of questions… Husband, when was the last time you brought your wife flowers? Wife, when was the last time you did something for your husband that he appreciates? Dad, when was the last time you dated your children? Teens, when was the last time you encouraged and thanked your parents for sacrificing for you?
#4 Practice Training: Everything you do should be training Kids to be independent, cooperative, and Christlike adults in the future. Single mom, are you discouraged? Realize you are making a deposit in your children’s future that is priceless and they will never forget that. Here are some things your kids need to be trained in.
- Finances – Many high school students graduate and don’t even know how to balance a checkbook or do a budget. Parents, WAKE UP!
- Hard Work – Teach your kids the value of hard work. Get ’em a job! No job, no money! Your house is not a welfare system.
- Relationships – Have the hard talks about boys, girls, relationships, sex etc. Train them how to stand up for themselves to say no. Dads, let your daughter practice smacking you in the face for when she has to say NO to her boyfriend for trying to go too far! Whatever it takes! In the end, more is caught by the way you practice your own marriage.
Family is the backbone of our culture and our country will rise and fall on the health of the family! I can’t wait for this Sunday to be with you!
Don’t miss our services this week as we will have a Q & A time during the service about the topic of family & parenting! Join us this Sunday at 9:30 or 11 am at the AMC 24 Theater in Hamilton, NJ! We are a unique contemporary church in Central Jersey dedicated to restoring lives and rebuilding and renewing the community around us. If you live in the Mercer County, Burlington County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA area, learn more about 217church by clicking HERE.