Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

Every parent should know that our children will imitate what we model for them. “Do as I say and not as I do.” just doesn’t work. If we want our children to have healthy marriages and families, we must model what it looks like in front of them.

This very thing plays out in recent statistics on children of divorced parents. Girls from divorced parents are 60% more likely to divorce than those who come from non-divorced parents. For boys, they are 35% more likely to divorce than their counter parts. We can also see this play out in income levels, work ethic, attitudes towards themselves and others; and we could go on and on. Our children are more likely to become who and what we were in front of them.

We all want our children to be happy and successful in all areas of their lives. We also know that the greatest area for a person’s happiness or heart ache will come from their future family life. Because of this, we must show them what a healthy family looks like. Here are the five biggest areas that we can model for our children.

Our children need to see a healthy display of affection in front of them. Some parents are afraid of showing any affection around their children. The problem with that is that the world is displaying all the wrong types of affection for them. I think it’s great when a Father and Mother hug and kiss each other (within reason) in front of their children. I know, you will get the “yucks” when you do. But, this shows our children that we do love each other and that display of love is natural and healthy. We should also show affection towards our children. I think it is sad when I hear of children whose parents never hugged them or showed any affection towards them. They go through life wondering if their parents really loved them or not. Make it a practice of showing affection.

We must model cooperation in working and living with each other. A great way to do this is by helping each other with chores around the house. Whether you are paying bills together or working in the yard together, as long as you are doing it together shows them that working together is a good thing. Having them join in helping you gives you the opportunity to teach them how to work as a team. The more you do together naturally brings unity to any couple and family.

This is one area that most people don’t want to show. “I don’t want my children to see us fight”. Well then, don’t fight. The fact is that when any two people get together, there will be disagreements. Disagreements do not mean there has to be a fight. Our children need to see that problems and disagreements can be worked out. Now I do believe that when there is a conflict regarding a child, you should not have those discussions in his/her presence. It is important to show unity in the presence of children. But, in everyday situations, don’t be afraid of work things out in front them. It will teach them that people can get through disagreements and go forward together in unity.

First and foremost is commitment to your marriage. Your children need to see that the two of you are committed to each other and to them. This means, never saying the words divorce or separation. In a world full of families breaking apart, our children need to know that their family will not be one of those. They also need to see that our word is our bond. When we agree to something or promise something, then we will fulfill whatever it is. Broken promises bring suspicion and uncertainty to relationships. Anytime there is mistrust, it brings damage to the relationship. The mere words, “I don’t know when to believe you.” will cause them to not be able to trust anyone. That brings insecurity that will always haunt them.

The only thing that can help us with the other four areas is our faith in God. Surrendering our lives to God is the only way to have our lives full of joy and fulfillment. Not that we won’t have problems and troubles, but that with Him we can get through them. Our children need to see that we are committed to God and His word; that we give Him prominence in our lives.

One way that we can show this is by praying in front of them and with them. This will show them that we truly believe in God and His goodness. Another way is by reading His word to them and teaching them about Him. Family devotions are a good way to do both, especially for busy families.

 It is also important to attend church together. I know it sounds corny, but it is true that a family that worships God together is more likely to stay together. It is definitely easier to raise a healthy family when you have a group of people around you trying to do the same thing. 

I know that all of us have and will make mistakes when it comes to modeling a healthy family to our children. The good news is that we can start doing a better job of it today. With God’s help, we can help our children have a happy and successful future.

For more on the topic of 'Family Matters' join us this weekend at TheCHURCH at Visalia - we will have 2 special service times - 4PM & 6PM - at Cafe 210 Downtown Visalia or by clicking this link to listen to audio messages from this Family series!. It is going to be a great time for the whole family!

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