There are many pressures on the family - from within and from outside. Family life can be fun. In fact lots of fun! It can also be difficult, sometimes even unbearable.
In today’s world communication is important as is listening to each other and care for those around us and honesty, openness arid trust. These things can best be learned at home from the early stages of a person’s life. In the home, living so closely together, we can learn how to resolve conflicts, how to be reconciled, to forgive and to accept forgiveness.
- As to learning, please see this excellent teaching resource on Responsibility, Relationships and Respect, the Other 3 R's, developed and written by two education practitioners.
- Many people have excellent theories about what needs to happen in the world. How we live with those closest to us is a good test of these theories.
"Two years ago one of my best friends died. My wife and I treasured my father's company as we looked after him in the last years of his life. I was not always close to my father. As a child I grew up to fear his violent temper. When I was a teenager that fear turned into a deep hatred. We could not talk or work together. Verbal violence occasionally became physical too.
One Christmas Eve I went to work at a drop-in centre. Angry that I was not at home with the family, my father phoned me, 'If you don't come back I will kill your mother.' When I got home he had a knife in his hand and had begun to break up the furniture. The rows between us became worse.
When I got married I began to subject my wife to violent outbursts. One time, after I had hit her, I thought, 'What is going on inside me? I can't control myself.' My wife said, 'If you are like this and you have children, what is going to happen to them?’
That really shook me. I asked God to let the searchlight shine on me. There had always been a mystery about my grandfather. I suddenly realised that my father probably never knew him. Having no father must have made my father's childhood very difficult as there was then a stigma about one-parent families. I thought, 'However wrong your father has been, you have never tried to help him.'
I wrote a letter and asked for his forgiveness. Some time later, quite out of the blue, my father said, 'I never told you about my father, did I?' The whole story came out. He had never spoken about it to anyone, not even my mother. I was 29 and the father-son relationship which we had never known before, began. From that time his temper, and mine, began to subside."
"Our youngest son was 13 when he came into contact with drugs at school. He tried them out and got deeper and deeper into the drugs scene with all its consequences.
Anyone who has experienced something similar will know what it is like when your child lies and steals to get money for drugs; to have the police come and ransack the house; to visit your son in prison...
When Steffen was eventually released he was free of drugs and started a job in one of my husband's factories. He married, his wife Elke became pregnant and everything looked hopeful and happy.
One morning a woman phoned me, to break the news that our daughter-in-law had Aids and that she used to share a syringe with Steffen. He and Elke were examined. They were both found to have Aids. This death sentence was a shock for the whole family. We could only invite the young, disillusioned couple to stay in our house as a way of caring for them. Amidst the tragedy we were happy and thankful that our grandson was born healthy. We think of him as God's present.
Eight years ago our son was burnt to death in an horrific car crash. It was a terrible ending but also a release after a long, painful period. Two years ago Elke caught a fever. Her mother and I looked after her. I often prayed with her. She died with the assurance that Jesus had forgiven her sins.
To all parents I say, never give up on your children. Keep your hearts and homes open to them, whatever may happen. Try to speak with God about your children more than you speak to them about God, and enjoy the time you are allowed to spend together with them."