(Stock photo/M. Eric Honeycutt) As we enter into this new year, I am calling for parents to be more deliberate, families to be stronger, and children to be more blest.
For Stronger Families in 2008
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JANUARY 03, 2008
Craig Harris, HappyNews Columnist

Every day we make decisions concerning our children. How shall we speak in front of them? How shall we act? What example will we set before them? Will we show passion toward our beliefs and compassion toward others? Or will we show apathy toward our convictions, coldness toward our faith, and indifference toward others? Our children are not only watching, they are copying us, word for word, action for action, and passion for passion.
If we continually yell at our children, we shouldn’t be surprised when they yell right back. If we are short and sarcastic toward them, we will see that reflected back. If we curse, we’ll hear cursing from them. If we entertain ourselves watching filth, we mustn’t be surprised when our children do the same.
Am I setting a high standard for parents? Of course, because I realize more than ever how high the stakes are. As we enter into this new year, I am calling for parents to be more deliberate, families to be stronger, and children to be more blest. Parents should run the home, don’t get me wrong, because this the privilege and responsibility we have been given. Parents should be in charge, set the rules and enforce them, and make the decisions in the home, but we should do so in a way that encourages our children to be their best and most well-rounded selves.
In our home, we love the Christmas story found in Luke, chapter two. We read it every year at our Holiday gatherings. We begin at the first verse, where we find a census being taken, thus compelling Mary and Joseph to travel to Bethlehem. Then we read to where the shepherds return to their fields, praising God after seeing everything just as the angel said they would.
And we stop right there, but I want to point out what happens next: Joseph and Mary taking Baby Jesus to the temple to present him and make offerings for him.
The offerings were two “turtledoves”. These were sacrifices made by poor families who could not afford a lamb. (By the way, the lambs the shepherds were watching in the fields may have been born to die in the temple, giving us an additional layer of symbolism.)
One of the sacrifices Joseph and Mary made on Jesus’ behalf was a “redemption offering.” It was made to God to recognize that this child did not really belong to them -- he belonged to God. With the blood of the dove, they were buying him back -- but only to rear him in the fear of God to whom he really belonged. Jewish families are so right in their recognition of this. Our children do not belong to us, they belong to God. He is their creator. He owns everything and everyone.
Even if you are not a person of faith this still applies to you because no person can ever truly own another person. We are all unique individuals. No one wants to live in the domination of another person, no matter how well-meaning.
This is important because it affects how we treat each other and how we treat our children. When we realize we are only temporary stewards of them, with the privilege and responsibility of rearing them, we will do a better job. We do not have the right to mistreat them, simply because they were born to us.
Our children don’t really belong to us, they belong to God. It is good for us to recognize this. This year let us remember that our children are watching -- and so is he.

You can contact Craig Harris at lcraigharris.blogspot.com