Nurture the Family

IMG_1827The first and arguably most important institution on the face of the earth is the family. It is the place where life begins and where dreams and relationships take place and grow. In recent years, the DNA of family life has undergone significant change resulting for many in higher divorce rates, sexual and physical abuse, depression, anger, promiscuity and suicide. Never has the need been greater for parents to place a high priority on keeping family relationships moving in the right direction! Here are a few tips for building a healthy family:

LOVE unconditionally. Never attach approval to behavior. When conduct requires discipline, always emphasize it is the behavior that is unacceptable…not the child. Children who experience love from their parents find it natural to accept the unconditional love of a heavenly Father.

John 15:12 “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

LISTEN with undivided attention. Turn off the TV, phones and other electronic devices and make eye contact. Demonstrate a desire to hear what your child has to say. Most children will open up and share their thoughts when they have a “safe” atmosphere of acceptance…don’t criticize, ridicule or minimize a child’s feelings…and save parental advice for another time. Listening requires using your ears and not your mouth.

Luke 8:18 “Therefore consider carefully how you listen.”

LEAD by example. If you want your children to be kind…treat them with kindness. If you want them to be honest…don’t lie. If you want them to be responsible…make sure your life is in order. If you want them to make their bed and clean their room…get the picture?

Titus 2:7-8a “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned.”

LAUGH at yourself and with others. The joy of the Lord is your strength. A happy home should be filled with giggles and hearty laughter. Have a positive attitude and don’t take life so seriously that things and circumstances cause you to overreact. Anger builds walls and resentment. Don’t sweat the small stuff…it can steal your joy and damage family relationships.

Nehemiah 8:1b “…the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

LABOR together. Show your children how to take pride in everything they do – even when it’s work. Enjoy accomplishing family projects like cleaning out the garage, weeding flower beds or even organizing closets. When the work is done…don’t forget to celebrate a job well done!

1 Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

LINGER in one another’s company. Today’s child will be graduating and getting married before you know it. Take time to savor the moment – get to know your child and let them get to know you. Save up for vacations, start family traditions, play board games by the fireplace…build memories to last a lifetime.

Ecclesiastes 5:19 “Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work – this is a gift of God.”

LEAN on God and each other. A child who is sheltered from “life” is in for a rude awakening when they reach adulthood. Don’t dwell on bad things or paint a picture of doom and gloom, but when it’s possible (and age appropriate), carefully share family needs and concerns with your children. Allow them to see you pray and seek God for answers, as your family draws closer together in times of need.

Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

LOOK for the good in your child – and when you see it, tell him! A positive image and high self-esteem will build confidence in your child and help him make good choices in life. To quote some words from a popular 50’s song, “You gotta accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, and don’t mess with Mr. In-between”.

Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

LEAVE past mistakes in the past. Focusing on what was wrong instead of what is right can beat a child down emotionally, and may breed negativity to last a lifetime. Instead of nagging or criticizing a child’s actions, deal with problems in a fair and loving manner, then live by this motto, “forgive and forget”. Jesus wipes the slate clean for us when we seek His forgiveness – how can we do any less for our children?

Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”

LIGHT your child’s way to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The responsibility of his or her spiritual development rests on you. Live out your faith with the kind of actions that make Christianity a desirable choice for your child. Provide opportunities for Christian fellowship and relevant Biblical training. Get involved in their Sunday School class!

Philippians 1:27 “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ.”

LEARN from one another. Sometimes the best lessons in life come from experience. As you grow and love together, each member of the family will have observations, input and tremendous ideas. Expect to discover more about life as you life it through the eyes of your children!

Philippians 1:3 “I thank my God every time I remember you.”

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