Family Matters: Family Decisions for the New Year Part 1.
The first worthwhile family decision to make is to decide to read, know and understand the Bible and what it is saying and apply it to life. The Bible is a rich source of wisdom for parents for bringing up children and maintaining harmonious family relationships. It has a few explicit commands for parents and children that would do one good to heed. Many articles could be written on this subject alone, but let me give you a taste of it.
The Bible depicts God as displaying paternal and maternal characteristics and ways that serve as a model for parents, especially so when human parents fail to provide good models. For example, God's dealings with Israel, often portrayed in parent-child images (Deut. 14:1-2; Jer. 3:19), shows what parenting involves. God disciplines his children for their good (Heb. 12: 4-11), gives good gifts generously to them (Matt. 7: 9-11), comforts, nurses and nurtures them (Isa. 66:12-13; Hosea 11:1-4). He loves them (Deut. 7:7-8, 23:5), yearns for them (Jer. 31:20), and feels grief when they sin (Ps. 78:40) and gets provoked and feels angry when they continually refuse to obey (Ps. 78:21-22, 31). However, God is also not easily provoked to anger, considering the longsuffering way of his dealings shown in the history of Israel. He shows mercy and compassion (Isa. 14:1, 30:18), hears their cries for help and deliverance (Exod. 3:7-9), forgives their sins (Jer. 31:34), but he also lets them suffer the consequences of their choices with their repeated failure and refusal to obey (2 Kings 17:7-8; Jer. 9:13-16). God's parental modeling shows that parenting requires commitment, is demanding and challenging, with no guaranteed results as one deals with people who have been given the free will to make their own choices. For this colossal responsibility, parents are to rely on God, cooperate with him and learn from him to accomplish his purposes for the children he entrusted to them.
Reading, meditating on, and applying biblical principles also has good benefits not only for the parents but also for the children. An extensive scientific research that assessed the behavioral and academic effect of Bible literacy on students showed that those with high levels of Bible knowledge exhibited higher academic achievements and positive behavior patterns (Jeynes, http://www.bibleliteracy.org/site/News/). The Search Institute also surveyed 6,500 young people with ages ranging from 12 to 25 living in 17 countries, and results showed that a sizeable portion of the youth is interested in and is committed to their spiritual development (Roehlkepartain, et al, 'With Their Own Voices", 2008). Filipino spirituality is associated with the youth's prosocial behavior, positive character, altruism and improved decision-making (Batara 2015; Mansukhani and Resurreccion 2009), ability to overcome challenging life experiences (Ladion 2007; Mansukhani and Resurreccion 2009), and mother's higher nurturing level and parent-teen communication among low-income urban parents (Jocson 2016).
Indeed, I can attest to the efficacy of reading, meditating on, and heeding, and being guided by biblical principles in family life. My husband and I started reading the Bible nightly to our two children since they were little. When they grew up, we encouraged them to read it daily on their own just as we modeled our own time reading and meditating on the Scriptures and allowing it to guide our thoughts, decisions, relationships, and pursuits. Our daughter and son-in-love has kept the habit and are passing the practice to the next generation with their three young children. This last Christmas, their seven- and five-year olds, without any prompting from the adults, led their family of five and two guests in prayer and assigned the adults to read parts of the Jesus' birth story using their Bibles. The three kids also sang songs they made up and asked everyone to share what they were thankful for. Our son and daughter-in-love will have their first baby in June and we are sure they will also do the same.
The YouVersion app has many bible reading plans one can use to help your family read the Bible in a year every year. This tradition of centering our lives on God and reading and heeding biblical principles in family life is a legacy that is worth adopting and passing on to the next generation! Your children will thank you for it!