We know artists by their most important creations: Michelangelo by the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Beethoven by his "Fifth Symphony," George Lucas by the Star Wars saga. Each masterpiece reveals something of its creator.
The same is true of God. We catch a glimpse of the Artist at work by reading the first two chapters of Genesis. He spoke galaxies into existence, formed the mountains, filled the oceans, and planted forests with a magnificent range of color and variety. His playful side is evident in creatures such as humming birds, ostriches and skunks. But the masterpiece that reveals more about God than anything else shows up when God made something called "family" (Genesis 1:27-28).
Two essential elements of family — marriage and parenthood — reveal God's character like nothing else in Creation. The love between a husband and wife provides a glimpse of Christ's passionate devotion to us as His bride. In the same way, the ups and downs of parenthood offer a compelling picture of God's tenderness and patience toward us as His children.
And family does more than reflect God's character. It provides a safe place where children can experience God's love (through their parents) and learn how to love other people.
Even Christ himself was born within the context of a family. "God in the flesh" submitted to an earthly mom and dad to model what it means to honor parents and to benefit from their loving direction. It was within the nurturing care of His earthly family that "Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (Luke 2:52).
Our children need to know that God has a special purpose for placing them within a family. The following activities and discussions are designed to help your kids explore this truth and to lead them into a deeper appreciation for the family God has given them.
- The family is a masterpiece of God's Creation.
- Marriage and parenthood reveal God's character.
- God put children in families so they can experience His love and learn how to love others.
Family Memory Verse
"Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching."
For a more in-depth study on the purpose of family, read these Bible verses:
- Exodus 20:12
- Proverbs 1:8-9
- Luke 1:26-31
- Luke 2:41-52
- Ephesians 5:22-6:4
— Kurt Bruner
Find a photo of your entire family. Attach a sticky note on the photo to cover your preschooler's face in the picture. Show your child the photo with the attached sticky note and ask, "Who's missing from this picture?" When he says, "Me!" say, "This is what our family would look like if you weren't a part of it."
Talk to your child about all the things your family would miss if he weren't in it, like his giggles and hugs. Explain, "God brought you into our family because He knew how much we needed you and you needed us. God has a special reason for bringing all of us together as a family — to provide a safe place for you to grow and learn." Tell your preschooler that when he shows love for his family, he is also showing God that he loves Him.
Remove the sticky note from the photo. Have your child help you, if possible, glue or tape the photo onto a piece of construction paper. Draw hearts around the photo. Let your child know that you drew the hearts to show that God loves families. Place the photo where he's sure to see it often.
— Renee Gray-Wilburn
With family members sitting around the dinner table, place a spoon (upside down) at the center of the table. Discuss how God placed each person in your family to learn how to love and appreciate each other.
Have the oldest child spin the spoon on the table, like he would a spinner in a board game. When the spoon handle stops spinning and points toward someone, each person around the table can take turns to say one nice thing about the person that the spinner pointed to.
When everyone has finished sharing, the next oldest child can spin the spoon. When it points to a new person, have family members share something they like about that person. Continue in this way until everyone has had a turn spinning the spoon and all people around the table have been the recipient of affirmation. This activity teaches children to express their appreciation for each member of the family.
— Marlo Schalesky
Celebrate the importance of family by hosting an "Our Family Rocks!" Awards Ceremony.
Plan a fun, fancy dinner (your "awards banquet") and have each family member create award certificates that highlight positive qualities of other family members. For instance, family members might win awards for Best Laugh, Most Creative Expression, Best Prayer Pal or Most Generous.
When the appointed date arrives, have everyone dress up and enjoy your banquet. Then roll out a red "carpet" (red linens or red duct tape on the floor), take pictures and present your awards to each other.
- God made family. Why do you think He did that?
- Why do you suppose God chose to put us together as a family? What "awards" do you think He would give to our family? What "awards" could we work toward earning next year?
- Proverbs 1:8 says, "Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching." What is God saying in this verse? How does that affect the way we live our lives together?
Wrap up with prayer, thanking God for each individual family member and asking for His blessing to help your family thrive.
— Mike Nappa
Time With Your Teen
Psychologists use the term "developmental individuating" to describe the natural process by which teens become independent. This psychological terminology may sound wonderfully scientific, but somehow it doesn't seem so clear and logical when your teen is in the process of becoming independent! Add to this process the fact that American culture idealizes teen autonomy, and you shouldn't be surprised when your kids question the importance of family.
Discuss the truth that God made family with your teen. He designed family to be a safe place where teens can grow and learn — even as they "individuate." Consider the following questions for discussion:
- How would you define family? How is family defined in the movies you watch and the music you listen to?
- American culture tends to promote teen independence from family. Is it possible to grow in independence while remaining within the family? How?
- Luke 2:51-52 details Jesus' relationship with His parents: "Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. . . . And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." Even though Jesus is God of the universe, His Father still saw the need to set Him in a family. Why do you think He did that? What do you think is God's purpose in placing each of us in a family? What can we learn from one another?
- How can we stay connected as a family even as we give you the freedom to grow as an individual?
— Pam Woody
A boy is scooped into Dad's open arms. A little one snuggles on Mom's lap. A princess twirls at a daddy-daughter dance. God designed us to live with each other. Help your child understand God's purpose in creating the family by asking:
- Can you describe one of your favorite family photos? Why is it your favorite?
- What is special about our family?
- Why do you think God created families?
- 1 John 4:19 tells us, "We love because he first loved us." How does being part of a family help you understand God's love for you? How does it help you learn to love others?
- Colossians 3:12-13 says, "Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another." How would obeying this verse make our family stronger?
— Jennifer Walker