Our final entry in this blog series is a listing of practical strategies that parents can incorporate into the structure of their lives with their children. Hopefully they will build these on an understanding of the biblical foundations for the Christian family outlined in previous entries and in the many books and articles that deal with this topic.
To Strengthen Families – Strategies for the FAMILY
1. Take an extended time (a long evening, a Saturday, or weekend) to evaluate your family’s life and make plans for changes that God reveals you need to make. You could do this in the context of a family weekend where adults spend time together for teaching and prayer interspersed by individual time for parents, for debriefing group sessions, and for making commitments to each other, their children – and the Lord.
2. Be continually learning from Jesus in His school of prayer. Model the unceasing-prayer life. Join with your children for times of confession, praise and intercession. Design routines for your family that incorporate prayer for needy people nearby and far away and praise to our ever present Heavenly Father. Be intentional about developing a sense of God’s presence in the ordinaries of your family’s life.
3. Read to and read with your children. It might mean including certain times in the calendar when the TV is off throughout the house, and the whole family reads at the same time. Family table-game times work well as an alternate activity.
4. Choose to fast from going to the movies (or renting DVD’s) and put the money you would have spent into a fund for the needy. This also works with expensive coffee treats, entertainment theme parks on a regular basis, and the like.
5. Some newlyweds start out building their life together without television in their home. They rent or own videos over which they have control. They get news from their internet connection or newspapers/ magazines. It’s easier to start out this way than to change once the TV has become a dominant member of the family. It is never too late, however, to establish guidelines for TV viewing and implementing them. Many families refuse to have television — and sometimes internet connections — in any bedroom.
6. Guard the family meal time diligently. This does not necessarily mean three meals a day, seven days a week. It does mean that you schedule carefully to make sure that you and your children have face to face times of positive interaction at least once a day. Record the amount of time each week that you eat meals while on the go in the car. Consider the impact this has on your family members. For young children, maintain bedtime rituals.
7. As children grow, let them join you in devising activities that everyone can do together that cost little or no money. Incorporate into children’s lives an understanding of the value of money, its role in life, and the biblical principles of stewardship.
8. Spend time with your children in group and one-on-one encounters that explore their individual areas of giftedness, their passions, their developing goals for life careers and use of leisure time. Begin while they are still young.
9. Seeking help from the Holy Spirit, determine to keep your voice in a pleasant range. Children don’t have to understand the words to know when adult voices project anger up the stairs or through walls. Take seriously the biblical standard of peace keeping and peace makers. Put into effect wholesome strategies for dealing with anger and learning to forgive.
10. Take seriously your covenant of faithfulness, adhering to the sacred bond of marriage. God intends that couples keep the vows they make. Depend on the Christian community to help you guard that commitment against everything that the Enemy throws at you.
11. Read books that point to God-focused living. Many titles now exist to meet individual schedules and reading preferences.
NOTE: Since the family is God’s invention and He intends that the godly family be a primary means for spreading the story of His glory, be prepared. Attacks on family structures are inevitable, but God is able and willing to provide wisdom and security. Greater is He Who abides with you and blesses your family, than he who is in the world! (John 16:33)