FIRST GLIMPSE: in focus
Eric Thomsen is managing editor of ONE Magazine. Send comments and observations about ONE to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is a typical family photo snapped during my Aunt Edith’s recent birthday party. I can’t help but chuckle at the expressions frozen in time—young cousins scrambling over each other to get the best spot, older cousins holding up “bunny ears” behind the heads of their oblivious spouses, and my aunt’s expression of deep pride in the jovial and energetic group gathered around her. What a great-looking family!
The picture does little, however, to capture the fascinating stories behind the smiling faces—the long years my aunt and uncle toiled in small churches from North Carolina to Florida and back again; the young couple desperately carving out a living and a relationship; the high school senior contemplating his future; the single mom struggling through college. As much as I enjoy looking at the picture, no camera can capture a family—yours, or mine—with a single image. No matter how fast the shutter speed.
In contrast, each family is made up of an endless stream of “images.” Moment by moment, decision by decision, experience by experience, families grow and change together. Over time, parents pass their beliefs and values to their children—not only by their words, but by how they live. Sadly, these “living snapshots” are not always pretty. Often, they reveal broken homes, lonely children of overworked parents, rampant immorality, materialism-gone-mad, physical abuse, and on and on. How did the picture become so distorted?
We find a clue in a recent survey* of more than 1,200 American parents. Only nine percent of the participants indicated that passing their faith to their children was a mark of good parenting.
I beg to differ—emphatically!
Passing our faith to our children is the most important mark of good parenting. Don’t take my word for it. Consider the words of the Apostle Paul, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Listen to Moses’ fervent instructions to Israel. “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7).
These passages and more make it clear that God holds parents responsible for the picture they create. Is your home in focus?
If not, perhaps it’s time for a change.