Family Time Together Is Essential

by W. Frank Walton
in Biblical Insights, Vol. 5, No. 8, August 2005

Time together is the bonding mortar that binds family members together before God in love

Giving Thanks Psalm 107

"Hear, my son, and accept My sayings and the years of your life will be many. I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths" (Proverbs 4:10-11). The book of Proverbs is a manual for parents for instructing their children with pithy sayings to encourage wise behavior in their children. Besides verbal instruction, parents lead by example in how they interact with their children. It's been rightly said, "For the child to be a chip off the old block, the old block must be around to be chipped on!"

The Distraction of the American Family

Americans have hectic schedules, yet the distraction of the American family from not spending time together is directly related to deviant teen behavior. A recent article, "The Importance Of Family Dinners," reports: "The number of teens who have regular family dinners drops by 50 percent as their substance abuse risk increases sevenfold, according to a survey of 12 to 17-year-olds released by Columbia University."

It continues: "The survey finds that the more often children have dinner with their parents, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use illegal drugs," said Joseph A. Califano, Jr., President of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. "It is a tragedy that family dinners decline as teens get older."

Other family experts decry the lack of family time together: "It is vital that frequent family dinners become a permanent fixture for children, not only when they are young, but throughout their teenage years," said Dr. Wade Horn, Assistant Secretary for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "The frequency of family dinners decreases significantly as children enter and go through high school -- and that's just when the benefits of family dinners may be needed most." A survey showed: Compared to teens that have family dinners twice a week or less, teens that have dinner with their families five or more nights a week are:

  • 32 percent likelier never to have tried cigarettes.
  • 45 percent likelier never to have tried alcohol.
  • 24 percent likelier never to have smoked pot.

Parents will wisely invest time to be with their children to positively influence them. "Give me your heart, my son, and let your eyes delight in my ways" (Proverbs 23:26). So, it is important for children to know that the family has to spend some time together. If they know this is required to enjoy other privileges, they can grow to accept it and even like it.

God-Centered Home Life

In creating a strong family life centered on God, there must be shared time together. Moses commanded Israel: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up" (Deuteronomy 6:5-8). Moses' timeless advice is the foundation for Biblical spirituality in the home. Time together is the bonding mortar that brings us together before God in life. You never know when you are making a memory with your children.

Deuteronomy repeatedly emphasizes the need for parents to heartily "love" God, to avoid another lost generation as in the wilderness wandering (Deuteronomy 10:12 - 11:32). For God to be first in our lives, His will must be regularly discussed and applied in our daily home life. What we truly love most of all will show up in our priorities, what we talk about, and how we use our time.

To communicate the priority of loving God, we must spend time together. The daily "family hour" needs to be kept in homes that glorify God. Family traditions and shared activities need to be instituted and kept. Working at such togetherness can be memorable and enjoyable!

In Deuteronomy 6, Moses urges us to discuss God's will "when you lie down." This refers to daily bedtime. Kiss your children goodnight. Read to them or listen to them read from the Bible or a Bible devotional. Ask them, "How did things go today?"

"When you rise up" is beginning the day with God. Besides giving thanks at breakfast, give your child a Bible verse for the day, like from (Proverbs. 9:10) "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."

Family mealtime is a good way to be together "when you sit in your house." We thank God for our blessings (I Timothy 4:4-5). We pray for our needs and cares (Philippians 4:6). By family prayer, it affirms that God is most important in our lives and central to our family's purpose. Turn the TV off!

We can read the Bible together and discuss its meaning and application to our lives. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge...Hear my son, your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching; Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head and ornaments about your neck" (Proverbs 1:7-9). Proverbs are pithy, memorable sound bites with a spiritual punch that children can remember. The father, as the spiritual leader, can read a portion from Proverbs after the family meal. As this becomes part of the family routine to read God's Word together, you then become more comfortable in discussing the practical, specific applications of Scripture in the home. Why not begin this family habit together today?

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