Helpful Suggestions for:
Maintaining the Family Circle
ALL of us in the family circle—father, mother and children—hold a common interest in the well-being of the family. It should not be left up to the father to be the sole responsible one. The family circle has a common interest in food, clothing, shelter, health and growth. We all share in family blessings and family reverses. Above all, the entire family needs to maintain a healthy spiritual relationship with Jehovah God. While the father takes the lead, the others should share and cooperate in all these matters. True, the father is the major breadwinner, but the others may have to share in the load at times.
In these days of rising prices, inflation, it is practical for the family to have a budget. The family members need to develop a right viewpoint. Children should not be demanding things and insisting on their own ways. All need to cooperate by giving loving assistance. With this right spirit all members will exercise care to live within the family total income. Let all be content with basic family sustenance. (1 Tim. 6:8) Avoid going into unnecessary debt. The Bible says: “Do not you people be owing anybody a single thing, except to love one another.” (Rom. 13:8) You young folks, when you sit down at the table, are you “clean-platers”? Do you take only the food that you can eat so that there will be no leftovers for the garbage? Yes, we should avoid wastefulness. Let us be careful to spend our money for necessities first, not for luxuries.
Now, you young folks, what are you contributing materially to the happy family spirit? How many of you shared in doing garden work last spring and summer and helped in growing food for your family? It is a worthwhile project to learn how to produce food, because harder days may lie ahead and all may need to share in getting basic food on which to live. You say that you live in the city with no garden in which to work? Well, then, you young teen-age boys, how many repairs have you made around the house for your parents during the past six months? There are always repairs needed for the house, and they should not all be left up to father to make. Perhaps your father can train you and assist you to be making basic home repairs and maintaining the car.
You teen-age girls, have you taken an interest in preparing meals for your household? How many pastries and cakes have you learned to bake? These are pleasant duties that mothers can share with their daughters. Children should not be allowed to become idlers, “wallflowers,” just wasting their time away. Rather, our children should be welcomed as participating members of the happy family circle. Let us develop the spirit of helpfulness on the part of every member of the household.
In this way our family circle will indeed become a group of happy friends—loving associates. Children need to become close friends with their parents, freely communicating with them concerning all problems. You as parents should not have a domineering, bossy relationship in the household. Rather, the father should be like Jesus, the “Eternal Father,” who made his disciples his friends. Jesus took his disciples into his confidence. (Isa. 9:6; John 15:14) So likewise, you fathers, gain the confidence of your children. It is a good plan for family members to take their recreation together on a family basis, arranging vacations to the liking of all in the family. Make it a change of pace, wholesome, relaxing, educational and inexpensive. The key to developing the right family spirit is spending time doing things together. Genuine companionship builds family unity.
A happy household always reflects itself in the home. The home should be kept clean and comfortable. All members of the household can contribute toward maintaining the happy home in such a clean, Christian way, so that it is in order, ready to receive guests and callers. Then no family member will be ashamed to receive his friends when they call. A tidy, presentable home reflects the spiritual cleanness of true Christians.
A united Christian family also sees to it that the grounds around the home are kept neat and well trimmed. Some families, to keep their yard maintenance to a minimum, see to it that it is designed with just basic shrubbery and floral displays. They avoid complicated, decorative landscaping that might consume considerable time for upkeep. With modestly designed premises, family groups can work together for an hour or two a week to maintain their household exterior as a credit to the neighborhood. Thus neighbors will not be able to charge that the many away-from-home activities of the busy Christian family have brought neglect to the home. At the same time, friendliness with the neighbors may be maintained on the part of all in the household. Remember, untidy yards and homes poorly kept on the inside can become “causes for stumbling” to neighbors who might otherwise heed our Christian message. Let the spirit of a happy, well-ordered home radiate to the neighbors round about.—1 Cor. 10:32.
BIBLE AIDS FAMILY SPIRIT
Family Bible reading became common in Europe and America during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Discussion of the Bible’s message brought spiritual guidance to the family and enabled basic principles of righteousness to be impressed on receptive hearts. In many homes, the Bible became a powerful factor in building a wholesome family spirit.
In this twentieth century, Jehovah’s Witnesses have stressed the importance of Bible study in the homes. Daily discussion of Bible texts and weekly enlarged study of the Sacred Scriptures have provided the basis for a united Christian family. Not only has there been a reading and hearing of the Golden Rule (Matt. 7:12) and of the fruits of the spirit (Gal. 5:22, 23), but families have been moved actually to become “doers of the word.” (Jas. 1:22) Under the leadership of the father, basic Bible truths have been discussed in a way to stir the hearts of all in the family. This, in turn, has helped families to be fruitful in joyfully performing good works toward others in the family and to those on the outside. By manifesting unselfishness, families have come to share in the contentment Jesus referred to when he said: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—Acts 20:35.
Featuring the Bible in the home demonstrates a recognition of the fact that Jehovah God is the great Father and Provider for the household. (Jas. 1:17; Ps. 145:16) Not only a healthful family relationship, but each one’s personal relationship, with God is in this way encouraged and maintained. Godly devotion with contentment comes to be great gain in the family. (1 Tim. 6:6) All in the family come to feel that they are wanted and needed, and are encouraged to serve Jehovah together wholeheartedly. The household comes to feel truly safe and secure.
In former times, households of wholesome Christian spirit featured daily family prayer. Not only was prayer offered at mealtimes, but also at the close of the day when the family kneeled together in reverence. The father would speak to God on behalf of the entire family, expressing gratefulness for the day’s joys and requesting forgiveness for mistakes. Similarly, in current times, households of Jehovah’s Witnesses are “vigilant with a view to prayers.” (1 Pet. 4:7) The family that keeps close to God in prayer is helped in molding a wholesome family spirit.
HUMILITY AND THE HOME
Humble parents with Christian good sense are quick to listen to their happy children’s expressions. Both father and mother are alert to commend and to express confidence in their children’s good qualities. Parents should be slow to criticize, particularly in public, endeavoring always with firmness and kindness to build up a good spirit and relationship, and to keep the lines of communication open with their children. The parents should never give the appearance of feeling that they are never wrong, as this in itself could create a barrier. The father does not abandon his Scriptural role of headship, but still he can be humble. (Jas. 3:2) There may be times when he needs to correct himself before the entire family and make adjustments in some of his decisions.
Parents should not be expecting too much of their little ones or be harping about their children’s weaknesses. Through objective and helpful conversation at the table, improvements in conduct can be encouraged in a kind, humble way. When handling family problems and matters, the parents do well to strive to be positive and cheerful. It is to be recalled that second in the list of fruits of the spirit is “joy.” (Gal. 5:22) Also, children should not be expecting too much of their parents. They too need to be humble and considerate, waiting for leadership to be taken by their elders.—Eph. 6:1-3.
Where the children’s opportunities for association with other Christian children are limited, parents should themselves try to become good companions for their little ones. Where children do have many friends, parents do well to get to know these friends of their children, befriending them also. Parents can help children to have upbuilding friendships by inviting children with a good attitude to come to their home, with or without their parents.
“Home, Sweet Home”! These words aptly describe happy homes of God’s people down to this day. As Jehovah continues to bless his people with the necessities of life, and, above all, with rich spiritual provisions, the many “homes” of his people on earth are equipped to reflect the happiness of His great universal household. (Ps. 104:1, 14, 15; Matt. 4:4) They become havens of true peace and security despite the divisions of these “critical times.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5, 13) Truly, for appreciative children and parents, there should be “no place like home.” As children get older, joyful memories and love for aging parents will urge them to return home whenever opportunity affords, be that even for a few hours, the better to reflect on and express thankfulness for the peace, security and wholesomeness of their earlier years. Yes, “Home, Sweet Home”—however humble that home of our childhood days may have been—should always hold for us fond memories of fine training and a family spirit built solidly on the basis of God’s Word, the Bible.
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The family should enjoy inexpensive recreation together