THE INDISPENSABLE PLACE AND ROLE OF THE FAMILY IN THE LIFE OF COMMUNITIES AND NATIONS (PART FIVE): THE ROLE OF THE CHILDREN

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The central concern of this fifth article of the series centered on the family and its indispensable place in all human societies is the role of the children in the life of the family. The bible says children are a precious gift to the couple. They are from God as both a responsibility and a source of joy to the family they are born into. Children do not choose which families they should be born into. Parents cooperate with God by choosing to have children. Therefore parents have a particular responsibility to ensure that their children are given the best of opportunities to be trained, educated and enabled to make the most of life’s opportunities. But the children have the responsibility to cooperate with their parents for their good. How? We shall explore below. The fourth article of the series on the role of the wife/mother made the following points:

Clearly the bible places the husband as head of his family and by implication the wife is second in command of the home. But by being second does not subordinate her to her husband. They are equal partners. The man is the head of his family in terms of responsibility and order but in terms of privilege, managing and caring for the home they are equal. Genesis 2:18 says God made the woman to be a helpmate to the man. The world helpmate means a suitable companion to him. The two collaborate and complement each other for the greater good of the whole family and home. They are not in competition.

The writer of Ecclesiastes puts it beautifully like this: “Two are better off than one because together they can work more effectively. If one of them falls down, the other can help him up. If someone is alone and falls, it is just too bad, because there is no one to help him. If it is cold, two can sleep together and stay warm, but how can you keep warm by yourself?” (4:9-11). The central point of this passage is that husband and wife beef up each other’s efforts. They complete one another. What the father lacks the mother supplies and what the mother lacks the father supplies.

Proverbs 31 speaks of the virtuous or capable wife who is not lazy and selfish but rather works very hard alongside her husband to maintain the home for the benefit of all its members. She rises early and is prudent and finds creative ways of increasing the family income. She does not give excuses but sincerely makes good use of every opportunity to provide for her family and thereby takes responsibility alongside her husband for the welfare of the whole family.

Father and mother ought to share the responsibilities of the family according to the gift or ability of him/her who can do it better rather than other and not on the basis of gender (man and woman), and none should see self as better than the other or inferior to the other. Both of them are equally responsible for their family and its wellbeing.

The children of the home need to realize as members of the human family (nations, communities, institutions, organizations, committees and families) they have both privileges and responsibilities. They need protection and the right environment to grow to be responsible for their actions and the greater good of their surroundings (things, situations and persons).

They should learn early on to share and partake in the care and the welfare of the whole family. They must learn to do the little they can as they grow up: take care of their rooms, clean up dishes, sweep and make the house clean, and take care of their clothes. As they grow more and more in age and education they ought to take on more responsibilities for the wellbeing of the family and other institutions they belong to such as the community, school, church/place of worship.

It is necessary for them to contribute and not just enjoy what others offer them. It is important for them to learn to associate hard work and achievements with some tangible rewards. The awareness should be inculcated in them that their own wellbeing is dependent on the welfare of others. Children should pray and cultivate the healthy habit of having a passion for learning the right things in life, and aiming for high standard achievements in the important things they put their hands at. They must not leave others to do the work but should rather join in. They should aim for righteous living by always striving for what is right and required rather than for convenience and popularity. All children must take their part in making the family a unified and healthy entity.

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