Families are the fabric from which any society is constructed. It may well be said that a good community—even a good society—is based on how good its families are. Families make society function, they command the moral restrains common to the community, they set the restraints of law and the punishment for disobedience.
Our word “family” is a simple construct. It comes from Middle English familie, which was derived from the Latin familia household, servants of a household from famulus servant. It has the connotation in our day of a husband, a wife, and possibly the children produced by them.
God created the family (Gen. 2). It was not a biological phenomenon, nor was it a social construct, nor did it just in some way or the other evolve. It was a planned action, one involving responsibility as well as pleasure. It was created with certain boundaries and there are rules to govern it according to its original design (see Eph. 5:21, 1 Cor. 11:3-5; etc.)
What constitutes a good family? Well, it’s really rather simple. Good fathers. Good mothers. And good children. Together, they make up a good family. But it’s not quite that simple when you get to the application of those principles to the everyday business of being a good family. Let me suggest a few things necessary for the family to function as it ought.
Certainly, it is not wrong to want to make progress in your job. In fact, the scriptures teach that “if one will not provide for his own, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel” (1 Tim. 5:8). But there is more to that provision than just making money. A good father must provide the spiritual motivation for his children, the spiritual atmosphere for their private worship, the instruction they need to learn how to conduct themselves in a manner acceptable to God. Do you help them pray? Do you talk to them about the difference between good and evil? Do you share with them the joy of being a Christian? Good fathers are concerned fathers. Concerned about the right things.
A child’s self-esteem is very important. The recognition of his or her talent and the proper development of it is a necessary part of helping a child grow to maturity. “Bring up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it,” Solomon said (Prov. 22:6). I believe that’s saying that parents should seek carefully to determine the natural bent of the child so that he can use what he has for the good of all concerned--even his own self-esteem. But there’s more to rearing children than giving them the proper amount of self confidence. They must be shown how to lose, how that sometimes they have to suffer for having taken a stand on some moral issue, how that they cannot always be right and be popular at the same time. And they are best shown that when you, Mom, are doing all the things you are recommending. Who determines the course of your children’s way--is it their peers, or is it your spiritual guidance as a good mother?
We make a huge mistake when we think that peer influence starts in Jr. High and concludes about the second year of college. It starts on the playground, and it never ends! That’s a fact. Good children will see early on that their parents are trying to do all they can to make life happy, safe, and productive, and they will make sure they are doing whatever they can to help. Good morals begin at home. They must be taught that discipline is part of life and that parents are charged with “bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4) and that they are to honor them by doing what they say (Eph. 6:1). There is nothing on earth as appealing as a good child, one who is trying his best to do right, one who is respectful and kind, committed to his parents and his God. On the other hand, few things are more repulsive than a rebellious child, no matter his age. Children must be shown that Mom and Dad and their spiritual values are the teachers in their lives, not what goes on around them at school or what everybody else is doing.
You can’t be a good father and not say no when it’s time to do so. There are times when you have to do it--even if it means the kids get upset, even if it means tears. They have to learn that “no” is part of life. They’ll never learn to say “no” if they never hear you say it. And mean it.
Restraint is necessary for good morals. Restraint is necessary for good health. Restraint is necessary for spiritual development. Mothers, teach your daughters to keep themselves for the right man. Teach your sons the joy of saving their love for the right time.
If your Mom and Dad are good people--if they are followers of Christ, do you think they would demand of you that which is not in your best interests? And do you think they would keep you from doing something just because they have the power to do so? You need to learn to put the best construction on their motives, to understand that they are doing what they do for you, so that you will be better.
Good homes? Just good Dads, good Moms, and good Kids, that’s all.