This is part four of my four part series entitled, “Family Matters.”
3. Being Loving:
Not only do we have to be present and wise, but we also have to be loving. Love is something that we all crave. To a child, love is paramount. Without it, a child feels a tremendous sense of loneliness and isolation. And this can lead to significant problems later in life. It’s a parent’s responsibility to ensure that a child feels love always.
This doesn’t mean that we can’t discipline our children. Discipline is important in teaching children right from wrong, which is an important part of growing up. But discipline can be done lovingly. It’s a matter of how it’s applied.
On the positive side though… love can come in many forms. I’ve narrowed it to three kinds, but I’m sure there are many others. These are play, laughter and affection.
- Play: this is playtime as a family. Digging in the sandbox, throwing around a football, having a water fight or playing a board game as families are all examples of play.
- Laughter: Keeping the mood in the home light and welcoming is done through laughter. Laughter removes dark shadows that can otherwise creep into a positive family dynamic.
- Affection: Show your love to your children and your spouse. Hugging and kissing are important forms of showing love to those you care about. And it’s important that children see a healthy relationship between parents as well. The odd kiss or hug doesn’t hurt in front of the kids.
The fuel of any family is love. Play, laughter and affection are key ingredients in maintaining a healthy dynamic at home.
How many of you are nicer to the gas station attendant than you are to your spouse when you walk in the door at night? Most of us say please and thank you to service workers. But do we always extend the same courtesies at home? I’m guilty of it. I think we all are from time to time.
In fact, here’s something that I want you to do today. I want you to talk to your family. I want you to tell them what they mean to you and how much you value them. We don’t do this often enough… we think about it. But how often do we vocalize it? In fact, right now, most of us are here with someone we love… I want you to look at the person beside you and give them a quick smile, a wink or a nudge, just to tell them that they’re important to you. Do that right now. I’ll wait.
And today, at some point, maybe lunch, maybe dinner, I want you to go around the table and tell each other what you mean to one another. Give it a try. It might feel awkward at first, but I guarantee that you’ll feel invigorated.
All of this leads to a family that feels happy and healthy. And, from there, anything is possible.
I’ve talked a lot about families in the traditional sense of the word. But all of the things I’ve mentioned here easily transfer over to the other types of family that we discussed at the beginning of this discussion. Let’s take another look at today’s sermon passage:
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
I’m starting to see myself as part of the “old” group that is mentioned in this verse. I’m definitely not a child anymore. So I think this verse applies to me as well… I’m still going on the way that I should go. And so are the rest of us here. So, for the adults here today, let’s continue on in the way that we should be going. And, for those of us that can influence children or be a mentor to someone else, do that. Lead them in the way they should go as well. In this way, we can build not only our individual families, but also our collective church family as well.