A teacher asked her students on the Friday before Mother’s Day to share with the class what their mothers did for a living. The first little child got up and said that his mother was a dentist. The second little child said her mother was a stay at home mom. The third child said his mother was an exotic dancer at one of the nude bars in town. The teacher was greatly surprised and hurried the class along in sharing. Later she asked Johnny, “Are you sure your mother is an exotic dancer?” “No, I just said that because I was embarrassed by what she really does.” What does she really do? “She is an accountant for Arthur Anderson.”
Jonathan and I were having dinner one evening with the family of a lady I was dating. Her dad said to Jonathan, “I bet you got teased a lot at school by your friends about your dad being a minister?” “No, not at all. I just didn’t tell them.” Proverbs (22:6) says, Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
I was reared in a very dysfunctional home and so by the time that I became a husband and a father, I very much wanted to offer a Christian home. What is a Christian home and how do we “train a child in the way they should go?” All of us are different and have different tastes, likes and dislikes. Let me share with you four (4) things that I have found true in my own family as I reflect back and what I find present in other successful families.
Communication is a key to a Christian family! You have to talk with the ones you love. We currently have an environment in the home where we are involved in every community activity that is possible. By the time that we have attended all the activities and transported every child, we are exhausted. Many times, parents live out their dreams in their children and exhaust each other in the process. In my family we had all our evening meals together. It was not always easy and everyone had to make sacrifices to do it. However, it was a time of catching up with each others lives. It was at that meal table that my son said, “Dad, there are some things that parents should never know about their child.” It was also at that meal table a couple of years later that I found out what was behind that statement. The meal table gave us an opportunity to talk about life. It was a support group for each family member. It was a place to talk about temptations: Social, financial and sexual. Meal time has always been a special time in the life of believers. The Disciples were always reclining at the table. Jesus fed 5,000 on a grassy shore line. And everyone knows how powerful the Last Supper was.
Share the faith story as you know it and understand it! We talked about God. At the meal table is was not uncommon to end in a theological debate, which led to a better understanding of each others faith journey. We played games like Bible Trivia. Children need to know and understand why they believe what that believe. I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. (2 Tim 1:5) When the children were small, we would gather around us on Christmas Eve and read the Christmas story. We would often read the little story of “The Other Wise Man.” I find it interesting even now how both children feel Christmas is never complete until we have read the Christmas story. People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:15)
Lead your family by living the Christian example! More is learned by watching than is ever learned from being told. Somewhere our faith has to stop being just talked about and just lived. To Train a child in the way he should go, is to allow the child to see how to live life. First of all, never be fooled into thinking that you are hiding your problems from your children. The children are watching! Children learn how to be husbands and wives from us. It is only when a husband and wife pray together before God that they find the secret of true harmony in a marriage. The differences in their temperaments, ideas, and tastes enrich their home instead of endangering it. There will be no further question of one imposing his/her will on the other. They find the art of forgiveness. Family life is about forgiving. We learn mutual submission. You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. (James 2:22)
Make your family a priority! Few people neglect family and home because they plan it. It is necessary to schedule family time. There are even times to schedule to be away from Church. If I am too busy for my family now, I will be too busy for them ten years from now. The motor home was a blessing in our lives. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:21)
It is not always easy to rear a Christian family. There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, `Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. “When he came to his senses, he said, `How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “But the father said to his servants, `Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.
The family is the institution of God laying at the foundation of all human society. Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife'”. Parental obligations include the maintenance of children and their education in its fullest sense.