The first is the Parent-Centered Family. Mom and Dad rule the household here. What they say goes and all decisions, plans, rules, expectations and goals are simply announced to the children. Life revolves around the schedule and agenda of the parents. In these families, the will of the child gets shaped, but the spirit of the child is often crushed, and they have a hard time becoming their own person as they grow up.
The second kind of family is the Child-Centered Family. Mom and Dad are servants to the kids. It's all about their soccer, band, dance, baseball, play rehearsal, and voice lesson schedules. Hundreds of miles are put on the family car each week as the parents serve as the agent for their kids' activities. For some, their kids also participate in church activates. But when church and sports or other activities conflict, we all know who wins out there. And kids get that message loud and clear. And then one day, the kids are grown and gone, and it often happens that Mom and Dad realize that all of their days have been about building a life for the kids, and they forgot to take time to build a life together. And they don't really know each other all that well anymore.
Some try to solve the problems of the Parent or Child-Centered Families by building a Family-Centered Family. This is the one I see most often where I live. Family meetings and consensus building are commonplace in these families. Input from all of those involved is sought out and considered. And this is a huge improvement, but even this can go wrong. In an environment where a lot of give and take is involved, sides can be chosen. Bargains get made. Kids learn to maneuver and manipulate to get what they want. Mom and Dad even fall prey to this. And pretty soon, this family is no longer marked by consensus but by competition where feelings get hurt, trust erodes and resentment builds.
But then there is a fourth kind of family. It is the Christ-Centered Family. And it is guided by principles like do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The one who would be great must become the servant of the others. And it is also guided by what Paul says in Romans 12, that we are to be devoted to one another in love, and honor each other above ourselves.
So what would happen in my family if I just said that from now on, I am going to do all I can to serve and honor my wife and my children? And what if I could do this without fear of being taken advantage of because I know that they have the same attitude toward me, and each other? What if my family was populated by people whose every thought about each other was, "What can I do to serve and help this person be who God created them to be, and live a life that honors God and the people he loves?" Can you imagine?! What an awesome kind of family that would be! That would be a family that knows how to live!
So what would it take to begin moving yourself and your family in that direction? How would you bring this to your family? My prayers are with you as you consider this and begin to act on it. Please pray for me and my family as well.
May your family be marked by an attitude of self-less giving to one another. May we become those who honor the other even above ourselves. And may your family become known as one that puts the interest of others, and especially the interests of the kingdom of God, above its own. And as you do, may your family be blessed and become a model to help others see what a healthy, God-honoring family can be.