Healthy Family Dynamics
“…as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15
“…the kingdom of God is…righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17
“Family dynamics” refers to the interacting forces or values within the family. Our task of parenting will be helped or hindered by way we relate to each other within the family.
As parents, we establish the dynamics and values of our home, whether consciously or unconsciously.
- What is most important to us?
- What will we cultivate and encourage?
- Where will we invest our time, energy, and focus?
- What do we want our home to look like?
- What do we want our kids to believe?
The values we hold determine the health of our family and the success of our parenting. It is up to us to set the right atmosphere for our children, to protect them from negative influences, and to create an environment in which they can flourish.
If our home is a place of righteousness, peace, and joy, our children will want to serve God. It will be easy for them to make right choices. They will love and honor us, and their lives will bring us joy and pride instead of grief and shame.
- Would you describe the home you grew up in as healthy or dysfunctional?
- How did the presence or absence of biblical core values affect the success of the home?
All of the values we want to instill in our children must first be found in us. Our example will always carry more weight than our words, so it is vital that we always allow the Holy Spirit to renew our minds and reshape our character.
God will enable us through the Bible and the Spirit of Jesus to establish wise family dynamics. We must be willing to study and learn, to ask for counsel, to change when needed, and to persevere.
While each family will have certain unique characteristics and strengths, there are several foundational covenants or commitments every family should maintain.
We Love God
“‘And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.” (Mark 12:30)
Knowing and loving God is the greatest foundation for our family. We don’t just know about Him; we don’t just do what He says. We love Him and worship Him with our whole life.
We should be comfortable speaking of spiritual things to our children. God is real, our love for him is genuine, and therefore it is natural for daily conversation to include God. If we only speak about God in the context of religion, we promote religiosity, legalism, and hypocrisy. We run the risk of our kids knowing about God but never knowing Him personally.
Our children must see that it is our love for God that guides our decisions and our conduct. We serve Him gladly and gratefully, not fearfully or begrudgingly. (Deuteronomy 28:47; Psalm 100:2)
- How do you demonstrate your love for God?
- How can you teach your kids to love God, not just to know things about Him?
We obey the Word of God
The Bible is our ultimate authority, an end to all disputes. It is the infallible and inspired revelation of God’s will. Parents and children who submit their opinions, decisions, and actions to the Word of God will see the rewards that it brings.
The Word is sufficient: it contains the answers to all of life’s questions and concerns. It is a joy to teach our children to read, study, and apply the truths of the Bible. We are blessed to show them what Scripture says about their specific life circumstances. This begins from a young age as we teach them Bible stories and biblical principles. As they grow, we can motivate them to establish a habit of reading the Word.
- What are good ways to motivate your children to read the Bible?
We Pray About Everything
Prayer is more than just saying a blessing over dinner or reciting a rhyme at bedtime: it is communicating with God. Allow it to be an integral part of your family life.
Even small children can learn to close their eyes, to kneel, or to say “thank you Jesus” and “amen.” Though it starts as just imitating, they soon develop the capacity to believe in their heart and know God for themselves. Young children are well able to pray for themselves and even to hear God’s voice. Often it is easier for them to receive the gift of speaking in tongues than it is for adults.
Praying together as a family teaches our kids that God is the source of everything, and that He is intimately involved in our lives. Make time to pray together every day for direction and wisdom, healing and health, provision and blessings. Pray about school problems, conflicts with friends, important events, unsaved friends and family, and anything else that our children or family needs. When God answers our prayer, we can celebrate together as a family.
Praying together also brings us closer as a family. It unites us in spirit and helps us overcome offenses and conflicts. It is hard to stay upset at someone we pray with.
- How can you begin praying today?
- When do you pray with your kids?
We Love the House of God
The whole family needs church, and our children will especially learn from our example of loving God’s house. As parents, it is up to us to facilitate their church involvement. This requires sacrifice, but we can’t look at it as a bother. There is no better place for them to spend their free time.
Spiritual growth is a priority and should not be sacrificed for academic excellence, sports programs, or even family time. That doesn’t mean being at church every night of the week, and there will be exceptions; but in general, church participation should be the priority. Forbidding our children from attending youth meetings and events should never be a form of discipline.
It is so wise to not undermine or criticize our children’s leaders. We will nullify their positive influence on our kids. The leaders in children’s and youth ministry may be young, and we may see their mistakes and immaturities; however, we should deal with those in a wise and biblical way. Bringing out the strengths of the youth leaders will always benefit your family.
- What are right and wrong reasons to miss church?
- Do you need to ask forgiveness to your child for speaking negatively about the church?
We Love Each Other
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7
Love reigns in our home, not selfishness, coldness, or hatred. God is love, and if we love Him, we will love one another. Siblings do not have to fight, nor do parents. Selfishness, hatred, bitterness, envy, jealousy, quarreling, and rage are works of the flesh and have no place in our family (Galatians 5:19-21).
The opposite of love is not always hatred: sometimes it is indifference. If we do not actively and purposefully bring the members of our family closer, the busyness of life can cause us to drift apart. True love takes an interest in others. It values relationship above anything else.
It is always appropriate to deal with offenses between family members promptly and aggressively (Ephesians 4:26; Matthew 5:23-24). That may mean changing our schedule so we can spend the time needed to bring resolution and restoration. If we are part of the problem, we should be quick to admit our fault and ask forgiveness of our spouse or kids. We should require the same of our children.
- Is fighting a normal part of family life?
- Is there a better way to deal with misunderstanding and differences of opinion?
- If your child is upset with you, what should you do?
- How can you tell when the offense is resolved?
Next week, we will conclude Foundations in Parenting with Health Family Dynamics Part 2. I hope this series has blessed you and better equipped you to lead your family as a Christian parent.
– Pastor Gini