In the preamble to the constitution for the United States of America it is noted that all men are created equal and that all are endowed with certain inalienable rights among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
If you were to design a constitution for your family what would you put into the preamble as to the inalienable rights for those in your family. As long as I can remember teenagers have been trying to convince their parents that they ought to build their family constitution on the same basis of some other family they know of that has teenagers their same age. As a rule it has been the case that the parents the teens want us to imitate are parents who have very few rules about conduct and who usually don’t enforce the ones they do have. The plea always runs along the line, “all my friends don’t have to be in before midnight” or “none of the other parents require their teenagers to do chores before they get their allowance.” The effort is always to paint you into a corner so you become convinced your standards are out of date, and maybe even archaic.
Each family is unique. The standards for one family may not fit at all into another one. As long as young people are living under their parents roof and eating from the food the family provides they ought to live by the standards of their family.
In family relationships there are unique opportunities for young and old to learn from each other and for everyone in the family to grow through the years. I doubt there has ever been anyone who brought up children to adulthood without deciding that many of the things they believed so strongly before they had children, weren’t really doable in real life.
In Ephesians 5:15-17 the Easy to Read Version says, “So be very careful how you live. Live wisely, not like fools. I mean that you should use every opportunity you have for doing good, because these are evil times. So don’t be foolish with your lives but learn what the Lord wants you to do.” Notice especially the phrase “Use every opportunity”.
In bring up children we tend to think everything has plenty of time and if I miss the opportunity to do some things with my kids or with my parents when I’m the young person the opportunity will come again later when I have more time. Then one day we realize that our children are almost grown and they are now so busy with school, life and planning for college they don’t have the time to do things with us or to learn those great lessons we always thought we would share with them. Many of the opportunities of life only show up once or only at one period in a child’s life. The things a child needs to learn as a toddler can’t be made up for when they are adolescents. The lessons they need to get in the elementary years if missed, won’t go well when they are teens. Even in the husband wife relationship opportunities come and go often never to return.
Both men and women think there will come the time when they won’t be so busy and when they won’t be so pulled in different directions. But what so often happens is that they fail to lay a solid foundation for their marriage and the whole relationship falls apart while they are busy doing other things.
Neither parenting nor the marriage relationship can be put into convenient times and be successful. Our devotion to our mate and our children should be such that we are ready to fit our life into the opportune times to build a great marriage and to bring up children for God, to the best of our abilities.
I know there are no perfect marriages and no perfect parents or children. God isn’t asking for the impossible from any of us. He asked us to be faithful and trustworthy in serving him. To do that we must be attuned to the opportunities he sets before us at any given time, knowing they won’t be there for long. “As we therefore have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10)