LESSON 5: EMBRACING Healthy RELATIONSHIPS IN THE FAMILY

Lesson Aim

To help the learner appreciate the importance of embracing healthy relationships in the family.

Lesson Objectives

By the end of the lesson the participant should:

  • Understand the importance of having healthy relationships in the family.
  • Appreciate the importance of relating well in the family.
  • Commit to build strong and healthy relationships in the family.
  • Introduction

Long before God established the Church, family already existed. He created man and woman, and gave them the command to be fruitful and increase in number.

  • Introduction

Although the Church has the responsibility to ensure spiritually healthy and growing families, the mandate of “Be fruitful and multiply, and subdue the earth” was not given to the church but to the man God created, Adam, and his wife, Eve.

  • Introduction

Genesis 1:27-28

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

  1. Why healthy family relationships?
  2. God wants the earth to be filled with a people who can subdue it.

Without healthy working relationships, the command to subdue the earth may not be realized.

Genesis 1:28

“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

  1. God is greatly interested in his exact image being replicated all across the earth.

Malachi 2:15

“Has not [the LORD] made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.”

Therefore, God is very concerned about the family environment. He is concerned about how children are raised and how family members relate with one another. In order to meet God’s expectations, we need to have good working parent-child relationships and good working child-parent relationships.

Implication:

“God the aggressive Creator wants to fill up his universe with beings who care for him and for each other. The family is the social unit God intended to use to fill up the world with representations of his loving character. It’s a place for nurturing and developing babies until they’re mature enough to go out of the family as adults and to multiply his image in other surroundings.” (Dr Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, Boundaries, 1992)

  1. How to enhance healthy parent-child relationships

Group Discussion

How do you treat or handle somethings that are precious, a blessing and important?

  1. i. Cultivating a healthy relationship with one’s spouse.

Ephesians 5:21

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.“ This is where it all begins. The two must be on the same page. Parents are responsible for setting a positive tone, healthy rhythm and atmosphere in the home that will enable relationships to flourish.

Children will be secure and responsive to parents who keep this God-given order. If husbands who do not love their wives, their children will silently resent and dismiss you as a role model.

Malachi 2:15

“Has not [the LORD] made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.”

  1. Recognizing that children are precious and a gift from God.

Whether biological, adopted or fostered children are a great privilege to have and should not be treated as a burden or nuisance. They are to be seen, and also heard.

It is an honour and privilege to be a parent/guardian. We should therefore work at overcoming negative family and cultural patterns that may hinder Parents and guardians from appreciating children and diligently playing your role.

Psalm 127:3-5

“Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. 4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. 5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate”

iii. Being warm and affectionate with the children.

When a child is sure of a parent’s love and affection, he or she will respond with obedience to their instructions, thereby avoiding the path of delinquency. It will also encourage the child at whatever age to blossom. At the baptism of Jesus and at his transfiguration, God is portrayed as warm and affectionate with His son Jesus Christ.

Matthew 3:16-17

“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Affection and warmth will require that from time to time, a Parent would say, “well done Son/daughter, I’m proud of you.” When he or she has fallen short, a Parent can still say, “I have faith in you, you can do it.“

Think about it, as a Parent if your child were in trouble, would you be the first person he or she would call or run to? Or would they run to their peer for advice like in the story of Amnon David’s son who was misadvised by his friend Jonadab to rape his sister Tamar as told in 2 Samuel chapter 13?

Note: Parents are advised not be quick to punish a perceived wrongdoing for which a child has not been instructed on or warned about. This would frustrate the child.

“Much good teaching can be nullified by the influence of a bad example. To teach right and live wrong is like feeding our children good food with one hand and poison with the other.”

Dan S. Shipley

  1. By finding answers to the children’s questions.

God instructed the Israelites to always be ready to answer their children’s questions. This requires a lot of attention, listening and answering question without getting tired.

Deuteronomy 6:20-25

“In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the LORD our God has commanded you?” 21 tell him: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22 Before our eyes the LORD sent miraculous signs and wonders — great and terrible — upon Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household. 23 But he brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land that he promised on oath to our forefathers. 24 The LORD commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the LORD our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. 25 And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us that will be our righteousness.”

Children of the younger age are bombarded with a lot of information, both positive and negative. A proper understanding of what is going on around them is very useful in the strengthening of values already learned which will help them in making proper choices as they grow.

Note: It is estimated that by age 13, a child would have asked 500,000, that is half a million questions. These are therefore half a million ways through which a parent can influence the life of the child positively thereby creating a lasting bond. If a parent fails to, they will look elsewhere or to their peer for answers (John M. Drescher, 1993).

  1. Spending regular and quality time with the children.

As the Parents spend time with their children, they are able to confide in their Parents. The Parents are in return able to connect and address the needs and struggles of their children.

Unfortunately, today’s parent is so busy either pursuing a career or making more money for the child’s future. Consequently, the caregivers end up spending the most time with the children and in the process, the essence of family is destroyed.

2 Timothy 2:1-2

“You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”

ILLUSTRATION:

A story is told of a 5-year old who came to the father calling ‘Dad, dad’ but the father answered, not now son, he came back five years later, again calling dad, dad and the answer was the same. When he turned 15 years, the father now had time and went calling: son, son but the son had learnt how to keep himself busy and answered, not

now dad.”

Note: Psychologists have said that if a child learns a value but does not put it into practice before age 12, they may never pick it up or consider it important when older.

  1. Learning to use courteous words with children.

Ephesians 6:4

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Children would also want to hear words like ‘thank you’, ‘I am sorry’, ‘I was wrong’ or ‘I failed to keep my promise, please forgive me.’ Parents should not be afraid to admit when they are wrong.

Matthew 5:23-24

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

vii. Partnering with God in the raising up of children.

Not a single manual has ever been published with A-Z solutions on parent-child relationships; we must seek and rely on God’s help in the process.

James 1:5

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

When Parents have done all that is within their power to do, they should pray. Even when they have failed in their efforts, they should pray and pray over again for their children. Whatever they desire their child to become when older, combining training with prayer works.

1 Corinthians 3:7

“So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”

Job 1:4-5

” His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.”

Note: Sometimes, the best a parent can do for an adult child is pray for him or her, leaving the results to God. The parent should also be lovingly available just in case they return your embrace and comfort.

Group Discussion

Are there values or things you have received that you would like to hand down to your children/or others, with the hope that they can also pass on to others? Identify and discuss them with one another.

Note: “You cannot change your ancestors, but you can change your descendants”.

(Dr. David Tan-Chi)

  1. Child – Parent Relationships
  2. i. Younger children are commanded to obey their parents.

Obedience requires that a child listens and follows through training and instructions by a parent. Parents are responsible for teaching their young children and enforcing obedience, this is neither the pastors’ nor the school teachers’ responsibility.

Colossians 3:20

“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”

Luke 2:51-52

“Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

There is blessing and growth in obedience.

  1. Older children are commanded to honour their parents.

Exodus 20:12

“Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”

This is the fifth commandment which the Lord expects us to obey and there is a rich promise that money cannot buy attached to it.

Even as you grow old and become an adult, and you eventually establish your own home, your parents will remain your parents and you, their child. You must commit to honouring them as long as they are alive.


iii. God expects older children to diligently and committedly take care of and help aging parents.

Children be generous towards their parents and grand-parents. They should not be stingy or feel pain when offering help. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees who were too spiritual but neglected the taking care of the parents.

Matthew 15:3-9

“Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death. 5 But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,’ 6 he is not to ‘honor his father with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 8 “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.”

1 Timothy 5:4

“But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.“ A saying goes that a mother can take care of ten children, but later, the ten children cannot agree on how to take care of their one mother. Parents also need to know that their children love and care for them whether they have pension flowing or not.

  1. God expects older children to have respect for their parents.

Proverbs 23:22

“Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.“

If children have to disagree, do so respectfully without taking away the Parents dignity.

  1. God expects older children to ensure the general welfare of aging parents, which includes protection and a healthy status.

Proverbs 15:20

“A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish man despises his mother.”

John 19:25-27

“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”

Jesus Christ, on the cross was still very concerned about the welfare of His mother. He did not assume His mother had other sons and daughters who would take care of her after He is gone.

  1. Forgive your parent for past hurts or failures

There is no pain that escapes the healing power of Jesus when we extend to others the same forgiveness that Jesus has freely given.

Luke 6:37-38

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Many are sick and unproductive because of not forgiving parents for past hurts and failures.

Colossians 3:13-14

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Implication:

To have parents is a divine prerogative. If Children do not honour their parents, they owe God. Therefore, Children should not choose when to honour a parent and when not to. Honour should be at all times and in every situation. Children should not expect their parents to be perfect before they can honour them.

 

  1. The benefits of honouring Parents
  2. i. So that it may go well with children.

In other words, one will be blessed if and when they honour their parents.

Ephesians 6:3

“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

 

  1. So that children may live long.

This literally means that your life can be cut short if you are not honouring your parents.

Deuteronomy 5:16

Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”

iii. So that children may not live under a curse.

Deuteronomy 27:16

“Cursed is the man who dishonors his father or his mother.“ Then all the people shall say, “Amen!“

  1. So that children may continue to gain wisdom through the life of an aged and wiser parent.

Proverbs 1:8-9

“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. 9They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.”

Conclusion

When God’s order for the family is followed as far as child-parent and parent-child relationships are concerned, there will be peace, harmony, growth and blessings for all. Both young and old have a role to play in fostering good relationships in the family. How have you been playing your part?

Conclusion

Psalm 133:1-3

“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! 2 It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. 3 It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.”