Healthy Parenting and Partnering
"But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."1
I read recently about a man who said, "I failed my son when he needed me most. I was under a great strain from a workload I seemed unable to escape. A gulf came between me and my son, and when I recognized it, it was too late. I have never been able to regain communication. I failed God as well as my son."
In our dreadfully materialistic culture in the Western world, far too many parents (who are on the obsessive merry-go-round of what the secular world calls success) try to buy off their kids with endless things, and/or get them involved in endless activities so they don't have to spend time with them.
In some of America's most affluent class, madness reigns. Super wealthy parents can give their kids "an 'Atherton Castle' [that] comes with a two-story, seven-foot-square 'fort,' and a ten-foot bridge that connects to another five-level fort with a 'crazy bar' climb—all for only $54,600. If that price seems steep, there's a 'pirate's haunt' for only $35,000."2 There's far higher priced models too.
We, including our children, were created for relationships with each other—not with things. We all need to be bonded to people, without which we live together alone apart and consequently suffer from emotional malnutrition and die a little every day.
What kid needs any gift—be it large or small—without the loving emotional connection to his mom and dad? More than anything else our kids need our presence, to be with them, listen to them, be kind to them, care about them, help them, and communicate to them through word and deed that we truly love them. If a child doesn't feel loved, he/she is heading for major problems somewhere down the road—and it may be just around the corner.
And by the way, our spouses have exactly the same need. I have a friend from back home who, when her husband was climbing the ladder of success, used to say, "My husband gives me everything I want ... except himself." Needless to say their marriage failed.
When we try to pay off our kids with things and our wives with expensive jewelry and the like, we wonder why our kids get into serious trouble and our spouses have emotional or physical breakdowns and/or get involved in an affair. I had another friend who, when going through chemotherapy, said, "I know why I have cancer. I'm dying of loneliness in my marriage."
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to love my spouse and my children as you love me, and help me to make them, as well as my relationship to you, my number one priority in life. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. 1 Timothy 5:8 (NASB).
2. Quoted on Breakpoint with Chuck Colson, Feb 25, 2005.