This webpage discusses two skills for enhancing family life:

1. Skills for parenting–Many Christian books discuss Biblical principles for raising children. However, what does research say about parenting children? Amazingly, the current research on parenting seems to substantiate Biblical principles. The below parenting articles show how Biblical truths and research substantiate each other. You will also notice that most of the “how to” tips in this series make sense for individuals at almost all ages, including adults. If we Christians could apply these skills to parenting and to everyday adult relationships, the secular world would quickly notice our “Christlikeness.”

    1. How to listen
    2. How to validate
    3. How to offer effective instruction
    4. How to take a time-out
    5. How to protect you child from atheism and agnosticism
    6. Identifying the difficult child
    7. Identifying the child with a learning disability
    8. Identifying the child with an eating disorder
    9. How to deal with the child who rejects you and God.

2. Skills for planning family goals that strengthen the family unit

Humans adapt rapidly to the luxuries they buy. The adaptation happens so rapidly that any happiness from their purchase seems relatively short-lived compared to things that produce a lasting happiness. North Americans, in particular, tend to discount things that produce lasting happiness, such as social relationships with friends and family. Instead many tend to buy toys and luxuries that fail to produce a lasting happiness.

Economist Robert Frank found that people pursue activities and purchase many things that don’t make economic sense. He concludes, “People would be happier and healthier if they took more time off and ‘spent’ it with their family and friends, yet North Americans have long headed in the opposite direction.” In what ways do you and the ministers in your culture pursue activities in preference to family goals? What specific family goals seem meaningful to pursue?

Many ministers feel unable to pursue family-oriented goals due to ministry responsiblities and physical separation from their relatives. In one culture that we visited, the local pastor had never taken a single day off from work for over fifteen years. He said that his church leadership would fire him if he took a day off–they believed that a leisure day represents laziness, and they would fire a lazy minister. Naturally, his family life suffered greatly. We spent most of our time teaching his congregation about the topics included on our webpage on leisure and our webpages on Balance Issues. This pastor’s congregation prevented him from developing healthy family related goals. Thus, his Life Issues remained totally out of balance with his Work Issues.

How can you help guide the next generation in your family? Consider your potentially changing role toward family members, e.g., you may change from doing active work to advising. Consider any need to help aging parents, ailing spouses, or needy grandchildren. Consider if you need to visit your family more frequently to accomplish your family goals. How can you balance your need to remain independent (not enmeshed) in the lives of parents and children who are becoming less able to care for themselves, even while offering care to those same individuals?

Exercise: My family SMART goals are:

  • My spouse –
  • My children –
  • My brothers/sisters–
  • My parents –
  • Others –

For a description of SMART goals, please see What is Balance?

© 2013 Nathan Davis

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