Wholesome Family Life—Not Just a Thing of the Past
FAMILY life has changed considerably within the present generation. Have you noticed the change? Has it affected your family?
“When I was a youngster,” noted an elderly gentleman, “our family always ate together and enjoyed conversation at mealtimes. We sought recreation as a family, taking walks and going fishing. And we worked together to get things done around the house.”
Is that the way things are in your household? In some homes today family members hardly speak to one another. They may even eat at separate times or in separate rooms. What is responsible for the breakdown in wholesome family life?
The growth of industry shares much of the blame. Today men work in factories and offices, rather than at home. In many cases society, rather than the family, cares for the sick, educates the children, prepares much of the food that people eat and even sees to their entertainment. Besides this, current emphasis on personal satisfaction leads many to draw away from family life to pursue individual goals or careers.
Has this eliminated the need for wholesome family life?
“A new survey sponsored by the Institute of Life Insurance revealed,” according to a news report last year, “that 80 per cent of Americans over age 18 choose ‘a happy family life’ as their number one goal. A happy family life was selected over ‘the opportunity to develop as an individual’ . . . ‘a fulfilling career’ . . . and ‘making a lot of money.’”
Is wholesome family life an important goal to you? How can you achieve it? Let us consider some basic responsibilities of family members.
The Father—More than a Breadwinner
Persons who study human behavior repeatedly emphasize the importance of the father’s role in family life. “More and more studies affirm,” remarks writer Ana Honig of the Women’s News Service, “that father-deprived youngsters may be emotionally crippled.”
Are you a husband and father? Doubtless you have a deep love for your family. You may even ‘burn yourself out,’ so to speak, in your efforts to provide food, shelter, clothing and other comforts for them. But if that is the extent to which you are involved with your family, you may be making a serious mistake. Why so? Consider a letter written to a newspaper columnist by a thirteen-year-old boy:
“Sometimes I wish [my father] would holler at me, so I’d know he cared. If I want to go anywhere or do something, I’m supposed to ask Mom. He says his job is to provide money. I’d like to have a father who sits down and talks with a guy, who has time to go to the woods with him or just walk. My father doesn’t fuss even when my grades go down. He says, ‘Let your mother look into it!’”
The Bible, too, stresses the need for fathers to take a personal interest in the development of the children, saying: “You, fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.” (Eph. 6:4) Are you familiar enough with the Word of God to provide that vital “mental-regulating” for your offspring?
The Role of a Mother
Mother’s role is an especially important one too. Besides caring for numerous household duties, usually the mother is with her children for most of each day. If she displays tenderness and warmth in dealing with her little ones, and encourages them to treat one another in the same way, there is little likelihood that the kids will desire to escape such a loving home atmosphere to go off on their own.
Commenting on the wife’s role in wholesome family life, Theodore R. Van Dellen, M.D., writes in his column “Family Doctor”:
“A good wife maintains a calm and relaxed household in which love and trust flourish. She knows that the emotional and psychic aspects of marital life are important to the well-being of her husband and children. . . .
“Unpleasant situations at work are out of her jurisdiction, but she is in control at home. Spare him as much as possible by not accepting too many social engagements. Help him plan and enjoy his leisure time. . . . Be a sympathetic listener when he tells you his problems.”
Youngsters can do their part, too, especially by cooperating with their parents when asked to do things. Keep in mind the Scriptural advice: “You children, be obedient to your parents in everything, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord.” (Col. 3:20) A fine Scriptural principle for wholesome family life is: “Let each one keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person.”—1 Cor. 10:24.
Doing Things Together
For homelife to be most enjoyable, however, family members must do things together. But what can members of a household do together in a big city where industry has taken over most family functions? Consider a few of the things that a New York father of two young boys found successful:
“From their earliest childhood my wife and I have taught the boys how to do things around the house. I’ve noticed that the youngsters are willing to do even dirty work, like cleaning out a toilet, if they see us doing similar things.
“When the boys were old enough to understand, I took them over to the toolbox. I explained every tool to them, its function and how to use it. Now they enjoy doing household chores.”
Do you encourage members of your family to work together in that way? Work, however, is not all there is to wholesome family life. The father quoted above adds:
“Everyone needs some relaxation. We’ve found it beneficial to pursue recreation together as much as possible. In New York, for example, there are all sorts of things that can be enjoyed free or for a minimal expenditure of money. We often take walks to the botanical gardens or to the park to play ball. Sometimes we’ll spend time browsing through bookstores, going to museums or to free concerts.
“Of course, a family doesn’t have to go out to enjoy recreation together. Sometimes we sit and read the Bible together or other good literature, such as classics. Recently the boys and I built a wagon together. It took quite a while and there were some setbacks. But it was a delight to see it take shape and to look upon the completed job, realizing that we had built it with our own hands. Activities like this help the kids not to want to be out on the street getting into trouble with delinquents.”
Do you take advantage of opportunities to do things with your family? Thousands of families throughout the world have found that applying Bible principles, such as those mentioned above, have resulted in greater happiness in their households. Would you enjoy learning how to apply Scriptural counsel to your own family? Jehovah’s witnesses will be happy to help you by conducting a free Bible study with you in your home or at any convenient place.