Real family dynamics are much messier. And it can be a real challenge to make sense of the disorder and bring it back into order and in line with Biblical principles. You can come pretty close to right if both parents are walking with God, constantly seeking His will and spending time with Him, listening intently to hear His still small voice, and remaining humble always ready to yield to God those areas of sin and selfishness that He confronts us about. I know that we try pretty hard in my family to do right. For my part, I have been driven strongly by my own experiences, knowing just how painful it can be when the family dynamics don’t work the way they are supposed to, and subsequently wanting desperately to get it right in the family I and my wife created. But it does take a lot of hard work. You have to be willing to do things the right way and willing to surrender your own selfish desires and comforts as often as you can in your understanding and your strength. Of course, you will never get everything just right. We are only human, and even if we try to do all the right things in seeking God, walking with Him closely, and yielding to Him in all areas of our life, we will still be human. There will still be times when we slip up, when we are ignorant of certain things or our miscommunication and misinterpretation of situations cause conflict. Even if we are Christians saved by Jesus and walking closely with God, we will always have this “treasure in earthen vessels” (2 Cor. 4:7). Because our new spirit is bound in this sinful flesh, we will never be able to get all things right in this life until we get our glorified bodies. But even this situation is as it should be, because our predictable frailty, weakness, and propensity to sin will always keep us close to Him and always keep us coming back to Him for help and answers. This is the only way we will grow in Christian character. We must constantly return to Him for all things.
If we do stay close to Him, He can develop in us the right behaviors that will make our families run right most of the time. I’ll relate some of the dynamics that have worked right for us. First, the Bible tells us not to provoke our children to wrath (Eph. 6:4). This principle requires some explication because the application of it touches on many of the wrong ways in which we treat our children. Here, the admonition is aimed at fathers because they typically are the ultimate source of power, justice, and discipline within the family. So they will ultimately be called upon to enforce the rules and the order within the family. However, this rule applies equally to the wife. The main thing to remember is that we should give our children reasonable rules that are not frustrating, that are tied to sound moral principles in the Bible, and we should always be willing to explain the morality of our decisions so that they may learn. If we do not even understand our own moral principles enough to be able to explain them to our children, how can we possibly teach them the right path that they should walk?
Moreover, we should not be forcing harsh situations on our children or treating them harshly in disciplinary situations which will also cause frustration. God is not harsh with us most of the time, so we should not be harsh as His representatives in training up our children to walk in His ways. Remember that love should be at the root of all your actions, and remember that you, yourself, were as naïve and uninformed in your youth as they may be at times. Remembering this, you should not judge their behavior so harshly that you are requiring them to be more than you were and more than you are willing to be at present as a good example. Such requirements will also cause frustration. Additionally, if you are not willing to live by the same rules that you apply to your children, then you are probably applying a hypocritical standard that they will easily see through. You must always be the example of all the behaviors that you wish for your children to embrace. That is the only way that they will be convinced of the truth of what you teach them and convinced of your rightful authority to judge their behavior and teach them.
I will have to return to this topic tomorrow as there is so much to say about it. I want to make sure that I cover all the right ground and give you sound teaching tied directly to the Bible. But this posting gets us well into the topic.