A Key to Successful Family Life
“WE HAVE a deteriorating family unit,” noted a candidate for the U.S. presidency last year. Indeed, the extent of the family’s deterioration numbs the senses. “Changes of similar magnitude in economic or industry data over the same period,” reported Fortune magazine, “would make us gape in amazement.”
Even families who try to follow Bible principles are often affected tragically. A few years ago, a father of six preteen-agers was told by a well-meaning fellow Christian: “You can expect to lose four of your children to the world.” Yet, this father did not believe that this had to happen to even one of his children. He explained why.
“Our children are not really ours,” he said. “They were entrusted to my wife and me by Jehovah God, an ‘inheritance,’ or a gift, from him. And he said that if we train them up in the proper way, ‘they will not turn aside from it.’ So we have always tried to care for them as though they belonged to Jehovah.”—Psalm 127:3; Proverbs 22:6.
The father here identified a key to successful family life—parents should care for their children as though they were caring for God’s property. While this does not mean that children in every instance will heed your fine direction, you have the responsibility to care for the children God has entrusted to you.
A Serious Responsibility
You properly provide this care with reverence and deep concern, not carelessly or indifferently. You work at it with the realization that you will answer to God for his inheritance, or gift, to you. There is no need to experiment with various methods of child rearing. Parents need only God’s instructions as provided in his Word, the Bible, and should follow these carefully.
This is Jehovah God’s instruction: “You must inculcate [my words] in your [children] and speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up. And you must tie them as a sign upon your hand, and they must serve as a frontlet band between your eyes; and you must write them upon the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” The Bible also urges: “You, fathers, . . . go on bringing [your children] up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.”—Deuteronomy 6:7-9; Ephesians 6:4.
So caring for children requires daily attention; yes, it means giving them unstintingly of your time and especially of your love and deep concern. Parents who give their children these basic needs are doing what God says is necessary in order to enjoy a successful family life.
Do you believe that this is asking too much? Many parents by their actions indicate that they feel it is. Yet, these gifts from God—your children—really do deserve extra-special attention.
How to Care for Them
Wisely, consider the example of those who have enjoyed success in rearing children. One magazine, in the cover story “Amazing Families,” noted four things that are important in rearing young ones successfully: “ Dinner-table conversation that provokes intellectual inquiry, the companionship of great books, the inspiration of creative role models, the sense that there is a family tradition to uphold.”—U.S.News & World Report, December 12, 1988.
Regarding “dinner-table conversation,” recall that God instructs parents to teach their children when they sit in the house. Does your family regularly sit around a table at meals, thus providing daily opportunities for companionship and stimulating conversation? Such times are vital and memorable for children, offering them a sense of stability and security. A six-year-old said he liked mealtimes “because you don’t have to worry about each other,” since all are together.
What about the quality of your dinner-table conversation? Does it frequently center on the contents of “great books,” including the Bible and Bible-based literature discussing our service to God or matters relating to God’s creation? In addition to dinner-table conversation of this kind, by means of a regular study program, parents need to cultivate within their children a love for Jehovah and his righteous laws.
“Having meals together regularly was no problem,” explained the father of six mentioned earlier. “This was automatic, and it served to unite us. But having a regular program of Bible study was difficult.” Because of sheer exhaustion after a day of hard labor, he at times fell asleep during the study. Yet, he never gave up conducting a regular Bible study with his children, and he regularly talked with them individually and listened to them for extended periods.
Besides taking the lead in meaningful dinner-table conversation and providing the companionship of great books, do you see to it that your children receive “the inspiration of creative role models”? The truth is, arranging for your children to associate regularly with those who imitate the greatest man who ever lived, Jesus Christ, is vital if they are to become successful adults.
Finally, what about “the sense that there is a family tradition to uphold”? Your children need to understand that there are family standards that they are expected to uphold—that certain conduct, speech, dress, manners, and so forth, are unacceptable and violate family tradition. They need to realize that to violate family tradition is a serious matter—that you would be hurt terribly, as was the ancient patriarch Jacob, whose boys by their shameful conduct made him “a stench to the inhabitants of the land.”—Genesis 34:30.
The father of six who viewed his children as God’s property especially emphasized “family tradition.” He constantly reasoned with his children on how the family standard of dress, grooming, and separateness from the ways of the world were in keeping with the spirit and direction of the Creator, Jehovah God. As a result of the great amount of time, love, and deep concern given them—being trained in the way they should go—all six of the children have responded by ‘not turning aside from the way for them.’—Proverbs 22:6.
Worldwide, there are thousands of such strong family units. What a praise these are to their Creator, and what a reward they are to unselfish, loving parents! As the years pass, such parents are appreciated more and more by the children who have benefited from their efforts. Please consider next the story of one woman reared by godly parents, and note the valuable lessons that can be learned from it.