By Drew Read
They are watching…
I tell this to my son often…watch what I do! The challenge for me as a parent, a father, and a man is that if my son is going to watch what I do, then is it not critical how I act? Defining the role of the family has become an increasingly difficult task in today’s culture.
Let’s state the obvious; every one of us is someone’s child. Every one of us has had a hero or someone they watched and idolized at an early age. Most often, that person was their parent. So parents, remember your youth and recognize that you are your child’s role model. Research states most youth look to their parents and other family members for their examples. Is that not your own experience? So if it is, what do we do with that? What happens to that hero? Have you remained your child’s hero? What is your role in your family?
As a father of a rapidly growing 7 year old, I often think of the example I am setting for my son. And that literally, is what the word means. We see in scripture that Jesus is referred to as the Son of God and “son” means the “example of.” Therefore, Jesus is the “Perfect Example of God.” It is the Perfect Example of God who was incarnate.
The Role of the Family
So, if son means the example of, then we must recognize as parents that children are examples of their parents. Throughout scripture, you see it this way: David was the son of Jesse who was the son of Obed who was the son of Boaz. Literally, you could say that David was the example of Jesse who was the example of Obed who was the example of his father Boaz. In the person of David, we know a little bit about his father, and his father before him.
We as children are examples of our parents. And this is a key component of the role of the family. Families provide:
1. an example
2. an identity
3. moral, social, and economic support
4. influence in a family member’s life that lasts a lifetime
5. boundaries providing security and structure in which one can grow and flourish.
Yet according to a study conducted by the University of Missouri:
1. Dads spend eight minutes a day talking to their children
2. Working mothers spend 11 minutes
3. Stay-at home moms spend less than 30 minutes
So, in raising children, do we look at it from the perspective of a lifetime or from a day in day out experience? The key piece of the family is a deep commitment by the parents to parenting and raising their children. Commitment is not demonstrated by a week’s trip to Disneyland or the beach or the mountains. A deep commitment is shown over time, day after day. Remember these four things:
1. Respect is earned
2. Make time for fun – deliberately plan to be around each other
3. Encourage – learn each other’s assets and strengths
4. Communicate love consistently – not just in words but in actions
You are never alone in carrying out the work and calling of a parent. Like-minded parents with whom you can become friends can become a help and encouragement as you traverse these years together. God never leaves us or forsakes us when we call on Him and ask for His grace. A healthy and vibrant church community can become a great resource for parents and their children. Use what God has provided for families and parents. Remember, God works through and with families.
Drew Read, COO of the Paul Anderson Youth Home in Vidalia, GA, is a passionate advocate for youth and strongly believes that the home is the foundation of society. Drew frequently speaks and writes on the topics of identity, technology, culture and high-risk behaviors affecting today’s youth. Learn more about PAYH and their resources at payh.org.