1. They have an irrational commitment to each member of the family.
They display an illogical love for one another, spread lavishly and without discretion. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.” 1 John 3:1 Driven by 1 John 3:1, stunning amounts of love, kindness, and forgiveness are shared to family member.
2. They communicate with truth and grace.
Mom and Dad model Ephesians 4:15 How we treat our spouse (and how we extend grace to our family members) will confirm or contradict what we believe about God. “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:15 Create an atmosphere where truth can be discussed, regardless of how difficult it may be to talk about.
3. They affirm the value and uniqueness of each member of the family.
Each person is loved for free and without judgment. His or her opinions and feelings are always honored. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:7 Celebrate the uniqueness of each child in our family. “I wouldn’t change a thing about you.”
4. They vow never to abuse, shame, control, or intimidate one another.
“Oh, children are resilient- they bounce back.” No children are fragile and understanding that children are fragile- no emotional, verbal, or physical abuse is tolerated in any way and is immediately confronted. Consider the power of words. “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” Philippians 4:5 Unkind words are not tolerated- “We do not talk to each other like that in our family.” Parents: You must model kind words and challenge this early on.
5. They share a strong spiritual foundation.
Parents recognize that a “mild dose” of God will never cultivate a life that has Christ at the very center, guiding every aspect of life (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). There is no abdication of spiritual formation- no outsourcing to the church. We create spiritual orphans, spiritual schizophrenics. Complete disconnect! What’s your goal parents? There’s a big difference between a young person who goes to church & one who is truly sold out to God.
6. They teach respect for others.
Racism, arrogant superiority, or disrespect for people who are different is never tolerated. Jesus added to the Shema that we should love each other as we love ourselves: “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’.” Matthew 22:39 When you see a child who is different than other kids ask, “What would it feel like to be that kid?” Teach your children to love and honor all people- adopt Martin Luther King Jr.s’ dream for our nation. Help your children dream of the day when every person- Hispanic, black, Asian, European and all people will know that they are loved with the unprejudiced, unbiased, and unrestrained love of Jesus.
7. They instill a sense of responsibility in one another.
Each member knows that they must take responsibility for their own actions and face the consequences of their poor choices. Self-esteem does not result from simply heaping large amounts of affirmation and praise. It happens when a child learns to be responsible. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives.” 1 John 1:8-10 Let the consequences do the teaching. It’s God’s way- and parents too often get in the way of what God wants to do, simply through the consequences of choices made or not made. Parents: Do NOT rescue your child. This takes courageous parenting- it takes faith- to believe that God will work in your children’s life as He sees fit. When you let the consequences do the teaching you place that child in the hands of God.
8. They play together.
This is so important. Laughter and fun mark a family that builds strong relationships with one another. “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
9. They celebrate rituals and traditions together.
This gives the family a sense of constancy and permanence. They know that the love and commitment of the family will never change- this year, next year, and the next. “Ask the former generations and find out what their fathers learned, for we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow. Will they not instruct you and tell you? Will they not bring forth words from their understanding?” Job 8:8-10
10. They seek help when they come to an impasse.
They understand that all families have issues that may need outside or professional help and they are not afraid to ask for help when needed. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 God is very clear about the kind of families He wants us to have. Let us follow His principles and seek to honor Him in our families.