One Tuesday afternoon our family was running errands as was the norm in the days that our kids were in elementary school.  After completing an afternoon of errands, we usually ate out.  That was a treat for all of us, especially me, since I’m the cook in the family.  This particular night my husband says, “Where would you like to eat tonight?” That was normal for him to ask as we usually decided as a family.  But this particular night, the answer was quite different.  Joy insisted on going to McDonald’s.  There was a special toy that came with the happy meal that was calling her name.  Philip was in the mood for Burger King, and Tim Jr., as usually wanted the regular, Taco Bell.  Me, well I had a craving for vegetables.  All of a sudden, the in charge voice spoke up, “If you all can’t agree, then we’re going home.”  So, home we went.  Mama wasn’t happy.  I really would have settled for anything other than cooking myself.  Now, I had to fix dinner because no one could come to an agreement.

Every situation that happens in our lives either grows us closer together as a family or further apart.  The growing apart family consists of several independent members that live in the same house.  This process begins to happen as soon as the marriage begins.  The newly weds love each other very much, but continue to have separate friends and separate activities even after they are married.  They eventually live in one world at home and another world away from home.  They very seldom really communicate about their individual lives and their deepest thoughts.  They finally realize they need help with their marriage and they decide to have a baby.  They say, “This will bond us together.”  The baby comes and it is a temporary bonding.  As the baby reaches junior age, the parents seem to get busy in the work world again since the child seems to need less and less from them or so the parents think.  Slowly the child reaches out to someone or some group who has time to listen.  One morning the parents “wake up” to the reality that a stranger lives in their house and it is their own child.  This “growing apart process” began years before when the parents were too busy with their own lives to begin a home.  The results of this process conclude that the teenager now will not open up to their parents because they have not had that practice growing up.  The average teenage boy or girl will also “buck the rules” because they were never given the proper positive attention or taught the rules at an early age.

The growing together family consists of members working in agreement to build unity and trust.  This process also begins when a couple gets married.  They enthusiastically reach out to another young Christian couple to spend time with.  Their relationship becomes strong by being with others, yet being together.  They share the same friends and fun.  A few years down the road, they decide to add to their already established family by having a baby.  The family grows spiritually as the child grows up.  Mom and Dad spend time teaching and training their child on how to act and why they do certain things.  This takes a lot of time and effort from the parents but it is worth it because by the time the child is 16, they are already bonded with their parents and ready to talk about any problems that they may encounter along life’s road.  As the wheels of an automobile turn in harmony, so must each family member be in harmony with each other.  The dad must be the head of the home and the mom must be the heart of the home.  Both parents should be actively involved in the lives of their children.  The result of a “growing together family” is happy memories made together.

I’d like to challenge you to be a “growing together family”.  Choose to make memories together.  Determine to spend individual time with each child everyday.  Know who your child really is and how they think.  Never be too busy for your family.  The cleaning can wait.  Be an encourager to your husband and children.  Protect and guide your children in word and example.  How is your family growing?  Together, or apart?  We are all growing, but in which direction?