Biblical and Practical Thoughts on Parenting, Part 7: How to Bless Rather Than Curse Your Relationships
We’ve been talking through various issues in this series on how to think about parenting both biblically and practically. Today, I want to share some thoughts on how we relate to one another in the family. Consider Philippians 2:1-5 (HCSB):
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”
These words have been said often, but as we all know, in the family life we can sometimes have our greatest struggles with selfishness. Children are quick to learn the word “mine,” and even as adults we fight the temptation to value ourselves above everyone else and to look out for own interests. So how do we bless our families instead of curse them? Here are ten practical thoughts to consider with respect to our relationships with each other:
1. Make a choice (commitment) to accept that person as they are recognizing that they were made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-27) and that Christ died for them (John 3:16). Accepting them does not entail always affirming their actions (Phil. 2:3-5).
2. Receive that person as someone valuable in your life. God will use them to conform you more to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:28-30).
3. Accept personal responsibility for that relationship. Do not play the blame game (Prov. 14:16; 15:12, 32; 28:13; Eph. 4:29-31).
4. Rejoice and value the differences, looking for the positive. (See the Song of Solomon).
5. Determine to communicate in a godly manner (Prov. 4:24; 10:11, 19-21, 31-32; 26:20-28) by:
a) Sharing (Prov. 11:13-14; 25:11-12; Eph. 4:15).
b) Listening (Prov. 12:15; 15:22; 19:27; 21:23; 29:11, 20; James 1:19).
c) Talking (Prov. 15:1, 23, 28; 16:24; Eph. 4:25-27).
6. Never assume anything. Grow in your understanding of others (Prov. 3:3-4, 7; 17:27-28; 18:1-2, 13, 15; 19:2).
7. Be an encourager. (Prov. 3:27; 12:25; 15:15; 17:22, 1 Cor. 8:1; 13:7).
8. Be real: be honest and willing to admit your own failures. Learn to say, “I am sorry, I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” (Eph. 4:32; Jam. 5:16).
9. Accept yourself in Christ (Gal. 2:20; Eph. 1:3-14). It will free you to love and accept others without either a superiority or inferiority complex (1 Cor. 13:4).
10. Be a Lover: Learn to speak in a language that they will understand (1 Cor. 13:4-8).
*For a deeper understanding of these, see The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.