Role of Wife and Children in a Happy Family
1. How can the Christian wife contribute much to the happiness of the family circle?
WHO is it that works so closely with the family head in making the family circle a happy arrangement? Who is it that shares this responsibility and privilege? It was Solomon who said: “Has one found a good wife? One has found a good thing.” (Prov. 18:22) How true those words are! Very often in the background and perhaps even unnoticed there is the good wife who is a great source of inspiration to the successful family head. Just how great can the wife’s contribution be to the happiness of the family circle? While we have already discussed the role of the parents at some length, here are some additional points for wives to consider in this respect. First of all, husbands and wives should work as one, think as one, and thus present an unbeatable combination. It is God’s arrangement. (Matt. 19:5) A good wife acts as a complement to her husband and will concur in his decisions, and, in turn, a good husband will want to consult his wife on family matters, that peace and harmony might prevail.
2. What is vital to keep the family circle a balanced arrangement?
2 The apostle Paul comments on this marvelous arrangement for the two primary ones in the family circle when he says: “Let wives be in subjection to their husbands as to the Lord, because a husband is head of his wife as the Christ also is head of the congregation, he being a savior of this body. In fact, as the congregation is in subjection to the Christ, so let wives also be to their husbands in everything.” (Eph. 5:22-25) This is a balanced arrangement, and only when it gets out of balance will there be unhappiness and lack of success. For example, note the counsel in Eph 5 verse 22, that wives should be in subjection to their husbands as to the Lord because the husband is the head of his wife. This principle should govern a wife’s view of her husband when it comes to family decisions.
3. How can the husband’s position in the family circle be considerably weakened?
3 In this regard, if the husband and wife argue before the children, as to who should make decisions and direct matters, it will certainly weaken the structure of the family circle. The husband’s position will be weakened to the point where the children can successfully play the father against the mother. Disagreement will result and the children will learn to disrespect both the father and the mother Rather, when there is agreement as to what family policy is to be instituted, a unified, unpenetrable front will be presented that the children will learn to respect—Col. 3:18, 19.
4. What observations on the woman’s role did one authority make?
4 Further, many authorities recognize the subservient role of the wife and the helpful position she can occupy toward her husband. Notice what one woman psychologist said recently: “I am a woman, hence my chief interest is men. And because I am also a psychologist, my interest in men is greater than it otherwise would be. Recently the National Management Association asked me to do some research on the different psychological factors of both men and women. It hoped that what I learned might point to ways of reducing the pressures which develop when men and women work together. I saw emerge these two truths: 1. All women like to work under a ceiling of authority. In short, they like to be bossed. 2. All women must feel that they are needed. These truths arise from the fact that, basically, women feel while men think. Women frequently measure up to men and surpass them in intelligence, but they are handicapped by the weight of emotional drag. Men have more practical minds; they can judge, organize, direct. Thus the supervision of women by men seems to be nature’s plan, however desperately women may fight it.” What this authority refers to as nature’s plan we recognize as God’s purpose. How wholesome an arrangement it is and how well it works for happy family circles!
5. What tribute does the account at Proverbs 31 give to good wives?
5 Finally, God’s Word gives a deserving tribute to good wives: “Her mouth she has opened in wisdom, and the law of loving-kindness is upon her tongue. She is watching over the goings on of her household, and the bread of laziness she does not eat. Her sons have risen up and proceeded to pronounce her happy; her owner rises up, and he praises her. There are many daughters that have shown capableness, but you—you have ascended above them all. Charm may be false, and prettiness may be vain; but the woman that fears Jehovah is the one that procures praise for herself. Give her of the fruitage of her hands, and let her works praise her even in the gates.” (Prov. 31:26-31) Yes, a good wife can work wonders to promote happiness in a family circle.—Prov. 12:4.
6. What blessings lie in store for obedient children trained by God-fearing parents?
6 And now we come to the third element in the family circle, the children. A glorious future lies in store for children trained by God-fearing parents who practice Bible principles. Such children know what the future holds. Theirs is a vision of the new world. (Rev. 21:1-5) Their alert and retentive minds are capable of grasping the full significance of what the present world conditions mean. Indeed, they know that the new world is at hand. But we are not in the new world yet. We are in an old world where wickedness and sorrow are prevalent. Children trained by God-fearing parents who practice Bible principles can, however, by their very conduct, teaching and preaching be a commendation to the principles inculcated in them by their parents. What prime requirement is there in order that they might share in the happiness of the family circle to the full? Foremost of such requirements is that they obey their parents in the Lord. (Eph. 6:1-4) Christian parents know what is best for their children. Their counsel is not theoretical but practical and brings marvelous results.
7. What experience illustrates the value of a good example set by Christian children?
7 To illustrate this, it is good to consider experiences that various youths properly trained by God-fearing parents have from time to time. For example, two youthful ministers recently were given an opportunity to explain how they shared in ministerial work during and after school hours. One of these children was asked by her teacher to describe how her ministerial work was done. The teacher was amazed to see how young people were trained to share the many wholesome and upbuilding things learned in personal Bible study as well as at congregational meetings. How different this was from most of the students under her charge! So impressed was this schoolteacher that she asked if she could accompany them in their Bible educational work. She was invited to do so, accepted the invitation, and even offered her own car to take her pupils from house to house so that they could participate in discussing Bible truths and offer Bible literature to those interested.
8. Contrast this with the course of juvenile delinquency pursued by youths today.
8 How much better this is than the course of delinquency followed by so many of the youths today! For example, the United States is facing an emergency and its very future is being threatened because of juvenile delinquency. Throughout this nation an estimated 740,000 youngsters under eighteen years of age were arrested in 1957. J. Edgar Hoover, head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, says, “Since 1952 our juvenile population has increased approximately 22 percent. Juvenile arrests in the same period have risen 55 percent!” “By 1962 one million of our teen-agers will be arrested every year at the present rate,” he said. He pointed out that “delinquency is a world-wide disease” and not just a situation peculiar to the United States.
9. How can parents safeguard their children against juvenile delinquency?
9 Parents, do not say this cannot happen to your child. It can and often does, if close supervision is not kept over your children and real loving concern shown for them. That is why it is so necessary for Christian parents to keep their children close to them at congregational meetings and assemblies and thus aid them to keep their minds on what is being said. At assemblies they should not be allowed to mill around in the corridors in groups. This disrespectful, delinquent attitude on the part of some should be curbed. What an inspiration properly trained children are to both old and young alike and what a credit to the one who said: “Look! Sons are an inheritance from Jehovah; the fruitage of the belly is a reward”!—Ps. 127:3.
10. Name some of the factors listed by students as contributing to the happiness of the family circle.
10 Happiness in the family circle is appreciated by the children sometimes more than the parents realize. One study shows that 150 university students made free lists of the specific home circumstances that brought greatest happiness to them when they were between the ages of five and twelve. Ten of the fifteen factors listed more frequently than others were then arranged in a list for the second group of 200 students to check. The order in which the second group of students ranked these home circumstances is as follows:
1. Happiness of parents
2. Parental expression of love for me
3. Sense of the family’s interest in me
4. Sense of the parents’ trust
5. Mother a good cook
6. Companionship with parents
7. Family unit and fellowship
8. Meals always on time and house always clean
9. Family able to provide adequate financial means
10. Pride and accomplishments of family
11. Why is parental happiness of highest importance to the happiness of their children?
11 It is interesting to note that the happiness of the parents rated highest. For the parents to be happily married seems to be of fundamental importance to the happiness of children. No doubt this is why so many homes broken by immorality and divorce are the unhappiest. Parents, jealously guard against a course of immorality, which would weaken the structure of your family circle and might well cause irreparable harm. Other studies have shown that the happiness of the parents not only contributes to the happiness of the children and the home but also conditions them for successful family living in their own homes later. The habit of happiness is something that cannot be taken for granted. It must be worked at and developed. Christian parents, above all, have the responsibility toward themselves, toward each other and toward their children to work together at cultivating New World interests so that they may bequeath to their children the wonderful legacy of hope of living in a new world.—Acts 2:39.
12. How are “manners” defined, and what part do Christian parents play in teaching good manners?
12 In this connection a word might be said about manners. What are manners and why are they so essential to proper living? Manners have been defined as “social conduct or rules of conduct as shown in the prevalent customs.” Naturally, then, Christian children will want to reflect good training along this line and do the right things at the right time. It has been said that “the hardest job some children face is learning good manners without seeing any.” How great the responsibility is, then, upon the parents to set good examples and to display good manners with regard to conduct, eating habits and other fundamental pursuits of life! Children are born imitators, and without such proper examples it is difficult, if not impossible, to learn good manners.
13, 14. (a) In divided households what responsibility rests on the believing parents? (b) What counsel does Peter give in this regard? With what benefit to the other, unbelieving, mate?
13 Not all children, however, are fortunate enough to be raised where both parents are believing parents. Nonetheless, the obligation rests on the believing parents to give spiritual food to their children. At times this may be difficult, but it does bring a great reward. Good examples may bring salvation. For example, where the wife is a dedicated Christian and the husband is not, then good counsel is given at 1 Peter 3:1-4: “In like manner, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, in order that, if any are not obedient to the word, they may be won without a word through the conduct of their wives, because of having been eyewitnesses of your chaste conduct together with deep respect. And do not let your adornment be that of the external braiding of the hair and of the putting on of gold ornaments or the wearing of outer garments, but let it be the secret person of the heart in the incorruptible apparel of the quiet and mild spirit, which is of great value in the eyes of God.”
14 Thus Christian wives, because of their godly conduct, may be able to exercise a wholesome influence on their undedicated mates, leading to a dedicated relationship with Jehovah God and ultimate salvation. The apostle Paul wrote: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified in relation to his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in relation to the brother; otherwise, your children would really be unclean, but now they are holy.” (1 Cor. 7:14) Believing parents should always be guided by love, for this exerts the greatest influence on those who are not in the way of life.
15. Why must respect for the aged be shown?
15 Further, to contribute to the happy family circle, we must not forget respect for the aged. Jehovah has a place for each one. Solomon said: “The beauty of young men is their power, and the splendor of old men is their gray-headedness.” (Prov. 20:29) Much can be gained from association with older, mature people. Through experiences in life they have learned a great deal. Youth can profit from this association. It can be mutually upbuilding. One of the best ways to please older persons is for youths to achieve success and stability in their own lives. No doubt this is why the apostle John, an older, mature Christian, penned these words: “I rejoice very much because I have found certain ones of your children walking in the truth, just as we received commandment from the Father.” (2 John 4) John was pleased to see these Christians make a success of the ministry.
16, 17. How can young people demonstrate appreciation for older Christians? Illustrate how kindness can be demonstrated.
16 Further, great personal satisfactions come to people through identification with others. Identification with youth brings emotional rewards and strength. Youths can also add to the satisfaction older persons find in life by consciously seeking to meet their needs for affection, recognition, security, new experiences and a sense of personal worth. Young people have a world of new experiences that are exciting and interesting, and that can be shared with mutual enrichment. Young people who are mature fashion their handling of older persons to reflect appreciation of them. That is why it is such a wholesome thing for young ministers to share enriching field experiences with older members of the congregation. In this way not only can the older members share the joys of the youthful ones, but at the same time they can bask in the sunshine of past experiences of their own and relive those moments to Jehovah’s praise. This is spiritually strengthening to those who may now lack vigor but whose hearts are genuinely in the preaching work.
17 Another way in which young people can mean much to older persons is to share with them reciprocally their companionship, services and material possessions. An automobile trip may cost little more if grandparents or older ones are included. Nonetheless, for even more impelling reasons it is good to invite older members of the congregation to attend assemblies with you. Kindness demonstrated in this manner is often very rewarding. Also, the personalities of children are generally stabilized when they are associated to some degree with older persons.
18. Why should each member of the family circle contribute toward its happiness and success?
18 Each one should therefore contribute toward the success of the family circle for Jehovah’s blessing. Could your family circle be a happier one? If so, resist every encroachment upon it from within and without. Unitedly work together for this favored condition. Without Jehovah’s blessing upon it your family circle cannot enjoy complete happiness. (Prov. 10:22) Fathers, mothers and children, perform Jehovah’s will, and work closely together to keep your family circle unbroken. Continue to use this powerful basic foundationlike instrument to the full in order to magnify its Maker.