Our children are both grown now, so now it is my husband, Mike, and I dwelling in our home. When Michelle and Michael were younger, we looked forward to spending time with them and having them at our home as much as they wanted, because they were a delight to us—and they still are.
It was standard practice in our home to sit around a table to enjoy our meals together. It takes time to prepare a tasty meal, set the table, and sit with your children as you all share your lives with one another, but this is time well spent. We did not use meal times to bring up issues that required discipline; instead, we did a lot of laughing. Acts 2:28 says, “You have made known to me the ways of life, You will make me full of joy in Your presence. ” Inviting the presence of the Lord into your home and to your table is essential. Preparing a little extra food at a meal just in case friends happened to come by and having good snacks on hand made their friends feel welcome. Part of our responsibility when we want people to feel welcome in our homes is to keep our homes clean and orderly; this does not mean perfection. Of course, kids often feel comfortable in their own messy rooms, but they would be embarrassed if the whole house were a mess.
Whether helping with their school work or shooting hoops, you can always make your children feel you are there for them. Our children have told us they appreciated the balance we showed of interacting with their friends when they were around, but also giving them their space.
The Book of James is filled with good advice and wisdom about living life. Let’s look at James 3:10—“Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. ” As parents, we have a responsibility to not speak curses into our children’s lives in a moment of anger, but speak life and blessing into them. Yes, we can ask for forgiveness, but the damaging words may have already done their work in causing pain and wounding spirits. It is important to teach our children to also speak words of life to others. Being consistent in behavior and attitudes that line up with biblical principles was valued in our home. Ephesians 6:4 says, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. ” We decided early in our parenting years to be more concerned with helping develop our children’s character and spiritual life and not sweat the small stuff.
What about electronic devices such as their music, TV and video games? Many children start using electronic devices at a young age and want to have the latest and greatest, as well as spend lots of time playing them. If these devices are in the home, monitoring the use of them is essential—both what they are watching or playing and the amount of time they are being used (moderation and self-control - Galatians 5:23). There are also lots of other activities that will build imagination and creativity, as well as keep your children busy and entertained for hours at a time.
Regardless of the size of the house or what activities can be done there, it is the atmosphere of the home that is important to create a place where your children will want to hang out—loving, caring, affirming, welcoming, joyful, peaceful, and safe—and food is always a winner.
Marlene McGovern is Assistant Pastor at Christian Assembly Foursquare Church in Missoula, Montana, where she and her husband have ministered for 32 years. She graduated with a Bachelor of Theology degree from LIFE Bible College in Los Angeles, California (now LIFE Pacific College in San Dimas, California). Helping families to function successfully, which results in healthy relationships both within and outside the home, is one of the areas that beat strong in Marlene’s heart. For more articles on building stronger Christian families visit: http://montanachristiandirectory.googlepages.com/