Exodus 20 v 12 “Honour your father and your mother so that you may live long …”
Why Families are Important
If to honour parents is so important that God makes it one of the ten commandments then the family must be very important. When God begins to legislate about human relationships He starts with the most basic social unit that the world knows – the family. In the first five books of the Bible there are numerous laws safeguarding the family – there are laws to cover the seduction of a daughter and even laws to cover the incidence of rape. But why is the family so important?
Self-esteem and Identity
How we see ourselves and how we see other people develops as we grow up. It is built into us in our families. The view we have of ourselves is based on the treatment we receive in our family setting. As a result of family tensions, there are many people who have all sorts of inner conflicts and turmoil raging within their hearts who, later in life, may need psychological therapy. If you were fortunate enough to live in a family that gave you room to grow and encouraged you, that will count in the later years. But if you have been ignored, belittled and criticized, it will reflect in some way, in your sense of self-esteem.
Respect for Authority
The family is also the birthplace of respect for authority. The very first time you ever say ‘No’ to your young child introduces him or her to authority. Our respect for authority is ingrained in us in the family. Your children will learn, just as you had to learn when you were small, that there are certain lines beyond which you cannot go. There are also certain expectations that must be met. Some things are right and others are wrong! Furthermore there are certain people who must be respected. If you do not teach your children to obey their elders, they will grow up with little sense of authority. Rules must be obeyed – for instance, they have to get up in the morning and they have to go to school, whether they feel like it or not. Certain things are non-negotiable. All these things assist our children to learn how to live under authority and part of the teaching process is to let our children see how we as parents behave when we exercise authority. Authority is a very unpopular word in our society in these days. The word has been loaded with meaning not originally intended. Thus when we Christians talk about AUTHORITY we do not mean a cold, heartless AUTHORATARIANISM. Parents are not tyrants. They are simply trying to keep order in their families, so that they can produce good citizens for the future.
The family is also the birthplace of our value system. By the time our children are teenagers they know what we believe, and what’s important to us as parents. God has designed a child to learn, and if our values are right they will pick up those right values. They may not always follow us in everything, but they will always know that their parents believe certain things. God’s word encourages us to believe that if we train our children, when they are older, the likelihood is that they themselves will embrace those teachings. If we don’t counteract the world and its influences in our home, our children will pick up the value system of the world.
If you are fortunate enough to have a family with young children, how are you raising them? Do you give in to popular culture and placate the child rather than discipline and teach with all love and humility? Is your own value system firmly in place or has it shifted with the changes of the times in which we live? Talk to God about it.