Maintain a Family Focus
strengthening family relationships, part 3 of 5
Having a family focus begins with a decision to meet the needs within the family and to build healthy relationships between the family members. It may take time and effort to work through these issues, but giving the family this priority can be one of the most important steps you take to strengthen your family.
Throughout the seasons of our lives, the activities involved in maintaining a family focus do change, but three concepts can remain priorities: making lasting memories together, spending quality time together, and diligently investing in the family relationships. These priorities have helped us strengthen our relationships and remain focused on meeting the needs within our family.
Make Memories That Will Last a Lifetime
One of our priorities is to make wonderful memories of our time together as a family. These memories will be something that we can enjoy together and talk about for years to come. Some of our fondest memories are of times we spent together as a family—times ranging from household projects to ministry opportunities. As it has been wisely said, “We are making their memories day by day and year by year, and what they shall be in the future will depend on the home-life we are living now.”
When our children were young, we often went camping together. We did things like jumping rope, flying kites, fishing, and hiking in the woods. We made it a priority to join in the fun and to make it exciting for our children. Throughout one summer, we camped a total of thirty-one days, and it rained twenty-five of those days! This allowed for a lot of talking time, board games, and fun memories. Those were special family times that we still talk about.
Spend Quality and Quantity Time Together
“Time: An earthly trust, which, if invested wisely, will produce eternal treasure.” —Bill Gothard
Time is one of our most valuable treasures. There are many good things to do with our time, but what would God say is one of our best uses of time? Often the good things are the greatest enemies of the best things. As parents, would it not be God’s priority for us to invest in the lives of those whom He has entrusted to us? What better way could we spend time than with our family? We can make all of life a “team effort”!
It may be helpful to adjust your family’s schedule to allow for more family time and less stress, or to have the children help with the housework in order for the entire family to have more time together. Often we are short with our children because we are rushed and do not take the time to respond the way that we should. Remember that the children are with us for only a short time.
Become “Best Friends” with Your Family
Children need relationships with each other that will carry them through their adult years. As home educators, the siblings are typically together 24 hours a day. Needless to say, at times it can be a challenge to get along! Teach them that God has designed each one of them uniquely and put them together in your family for a purpose. Sibling relationships provide an opportunity to learn how to work through conflicts and to prepare them for future relationships. Share your vision for your family relationships with them, and encourage them to focus on being best friends.
Have fun together! That is what children will do when they get together with friends. If you want the family to be best friends, it is important to provide opportunities for them to enjoy each other. Play with your children. Have each child make a list of the activities that they enjoy, and do them together as a family.
Let the children see your family as a unit. It has been said that the more children feel a part of the family, the less peer pressure will affect them. Encourage the children to treat each other like friends, to do special things together, and to focus on building those relationships.
We have found that a focus on peer friendships usually pulls children away from the family. It’s like giving them a divided focus, and the peers usually win the child’s heart. We would rather influence our children than have them learn from their peers.
Proverbs 13:20 says ”He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” This realization has been a key to keeping our children’s hearts. We believe that it is best to surround our children with wise people. We want to apprentice our children in wisdom, so we have chosen to limit peer relationships and have provided a pleasant and exciting environment where our children can enjoy each other. It is very important to make home your children’s favorite place to be.
We have noticed that children are more mature when they have friends of all ages. This allows them to have a rich social life as they relate to people of different ages. When they get into the young adult years, they can be leaders and be able to influence those who want to go in the same direction. We have seen that many young people cannot relate to anyone outside of their own peer group. It has been a priority for us to train our children to communicate with all age groups so that they can be effective in ministering to others.
- Have I arranged my schedule in order to make my family a priority?
- Are my children best friends with each other?
- What changes can I make in order to have my family become best friends?
George and Claudia Vogrin
George Vogrin served as the director of the Advanced Training Institute from 2004–2006. He and his wife Claudia desire to encourage families to serve the Lord together and assist them in raising up a generation that will impact the world for the kingdom of God.