I have been thinking about my family and how we relate. As a teen I rehearsed my parent’s flaws and faults, vowing I would never do those things. As immature as that vow might have been then, in some areas I was right to not want to copy my parent’s behavior, just as my children would be right to not imitate me in my troublesome areas.
Before I go further, lest I am tempted to dwell only on the bad, let me first list some of the good things in my growing up years. My parents came to every PTA meeting and watched me march in the band at every home game. My father took me skiing and tubing at the lake on the weekends. He played board games and built me a tree house. My parents got me to and from band practices and friend’s houses. My friends were always welcome at my house. My parents provided me with money, food, clothing, and just about anything I ever wanted. But, of course, they were not perfect, and I was certainly not a perfect child! As in all relationships on earth, there were things in my family that just were not right, and for our family one of these things was our way of relating to one another.
Now I am the parent and I find myself relating to my husband and children the way my parents related to each other and to me. This is not a good thing. When I was growing up my family did little more than live in the same house. We did not talk about ideas or thoughts or beliefs. My family did not speak of or show affection or love; I don’t think we knew how. My family did not talk of spiritual things and we did not pray together. My parents were not the authority in our house. Although I have strong convictions in these areas and I know all these things are vitally important to my family, I seem to automatically return to the default settings I was raised with.
With this in mind, I have written up a list of goals to help me change those default settings to Godly ones. My hope is that as I think and pray through these things intentionally and daily, God will be able to act through my family and allow us to be more and more a picture of His relationship to us, His children.
What about you and your family? Have you thought about how you were raised and how you are raising your own children? Have you thought about the mistakes your parents made and planned a way to do things differently? Or thought through the things they did right, and planned to do that? We have to intentionally raise our kids, we can’t afford to make it up as we go along. I encourage you to do what I have done: think this through and set some concrete goals for yourself. It is in our nature to repeat the mistakes of the past. But it is in God’s nature to intervene and transform the past, if we will allow it.
Rebecca A Givens, 02/25/07