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    by Mike McHugh

The Model Family
Date Posted: February 21, 2008

The longer my wife and I home school, the more convinced I am that one of the most critical lessons that we can teach our children is how to be godly, competent parents. As a youngster, I was blessed to grow up with parents who truly loved each other, as well as every child given to them by their Maker. Although my folks were not home educators in the formal sense of the term, (such a godly alternative was rarely considered by parents prior to 1970) they did manage to spend significant time each week providing me with important training. Much of this training involved the routine process of modeling how to be a competent parent, and how to make a household function well.

Back in the 1950’s and 1960’s, most parents in the U.S. had at least a basic understanding of what it took to keep a family functioning properly because they lived in a time when Americans still embraced a biblical view of marriage and family. The result was that couples commonly entered the covenant of marriage with a set of values and expectations that could be summed up in these terms:

  1. Marriage was uniquely designed by Almighty God to be between a man and a woman.

  2. Men were commissioned by God to lead their families in order that they may serve them as protector, provider, and spiritual shepherd.

  3. Women were primarily called to be helpmates to their husbands, as well as homemakers and nurturers of children.

  4. The responsibility, and therefore the authority, to raise and train children belonged solely to parents and not to the state or community.

  5. Divorce was not simply a private matter initiated for the sake of personal convenience, but a public tragedy that must only be resorted to in cases of infidelity or abandonment.

  6. Children were bound by the law of God to honor and obey their parents in the Lord.

The rules or standards for marriage previously mentioned have been set aside by a significant number of parents in recent decades with disastrous results. This is not to say that dysfunctional marriages and homes are merely a modern invention, but rather that whatever a society or culture sows in terms of ideas will have definite observable consequences. In any age or society, broken and vain philosophies regarding the estate of marriage will inevitably cause a rise in the number of broken families. American culture is in a current state of decline precisely because multiple generations of adults have bought into a view of family relationships that is profoundly unbiblical. Not surprisingly, the individuals who are most likely to suffer the most as a result of this retreat from a biblical view of marriage are the children within each household.

Home school parents must never underestimate the importance of the lessons that they teach their children when their textbooks are on the shelf. Nor should parents neglect to recognize the necessity of preparing their children for marriage by equipping them with the following skills:

  1. Home school students need theological training that will permit them to be able to train and nurture their own children some day. Young men, in particular, need to be trained to know how to lead a family in daily devotions and prayer, while young ladies need to be equipped in order that they may be able to spiritually nurture children.

  2. Students must be given a thorough understanding of the biblical principles of money management and investing. Far too many Christian marriages end in divorce due in large measure to the inability of one or both parties to properly handle their financial affairs.

  3. Young people need to know and practice the character traits that will some day enable them to enjoy a healthy marriage relationship. Few issues will undermine a marriage relationship faster than traits like selfishness, pride, stubborness, or poor manners.

  4. Students must be taught the principles of health management and personal hygiene, for these issues do have a profound impact upon the quality of family life.

  5. Young people also need to be taught practical life skills such as home repair techniques and automobile maintenance.

  6. Home school students must be given a well-rounded education that is grounded upon Holy Scripture. Special care must be taken to ensure that students are equipped to read, write, and utilize computer-based technology with the utmost skill.

  7. Young people would profit from a course in conflict resolution that is biblically based. The book of Proverbs is a great place to start in this regard.

  8. Home school parents should study the book of Ephesians with their teenage children so that they have a biblical understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a husband and wife.

Although it is true that virtually no young adult, regardless of the diligence exerted by their parents, will be perfectly prepared to start their own household, this fact does not absolve parents from doing all they can to prepare their offspring for future responsibilities. It is, after all, strong Christian families that help to build strong and godly churches and societies. Home school parents who truly desire to impact the world for Christ by sending the “arrows” (children) that God has entrusted to them into the world, must not neglect to prepare them for the rigors of marriage. The plain fact is that the impact of young adults for the kingdom of God will be greatly blunted, if they fail to handle the covenant of marriage well.

It is a modern day tragedy that Christian couples are proceeding to divorce each other at rates that are nearly comparable to those who do not know the Lord. Home educators can and should do all that they can to equip their children to run a Christ-honoring home, so that they can avoid being a party to yet another broken home. The steps that are taken by mothers and fathers today to model what it takes to be committed and competent parents, will help to light the way for their children to enjoy a brighter tomorrow. The good news for parents who are willing to walk uprightly before their children, is that Almighty God can and will use their example to turn the hearts of their covenant children in the way of righteousness and peace.

Copyright 2008 Michael J. McHugh

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Biography Information:
This column is written by the staff at Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights, Illinois. As a pioneer in the homeschool movement, Christian Liberty ministries has been operating a full service, K-12 home school program for over thirty years and a Christian textbook ministry (Christian Liberty Press), since 1985. The mission of Christian Liberty is to provide parents with quality, affordable educational products and services that will enable them to teach their children in the home and to train their children to serve Christ in every area of life. A more extensive explanation of the CLASS home school program can be obtained at www.homeschools.org.
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