The health and prosperity of our society is directly related to the well being of our families. Our families are the foundation of our great nation. Today, more than ever the traditional family is in trouble especially our African American families. For example, 68% of black children are born to single moms. Marriage between one man and one woman is under assault. Old fashion moral values are being attacked rather than passed on to our children. What can we do to recreate this tradition of strong and functional families? If we do not do anything then our children will not be able to live the dream that Dr. Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King taught, lived and died for.
1. Commit to our Marriage. Marriage partners must fully commit themselves to each other and achieve love and respect through the guidance of God. It has been said that marriage with mutual love, respect, honor, intimacy, and lifelong commitment as its fabric, mirrors the love, sanctity, closeness and permanence of the bond between God and His church.
2. Rear our Children. Proverbs 29:15 says, "the rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother."(NIV) As parents we must be willing to accept this challenge. However, often we delegate or leave the task of training and raising our children to society. We expect the schools to teach our children about sex and morals. We allow television and movies to teach our boys and girls about love and relationships—one night stands. We expect the church to tell our precious ones about faith and trust in a higher being. Nothing could be further from the truth. As parents it is our job. We must accept the challenge of rearing our kids. We must get back to teaching the old fashion basics—the 3 R’s; Respect, Responsibility and Religion. This training must start early and it all starts at home.
3. Celebrate as a Family. Children need encouragement like a plant needs water. Recognized or celebrate together graduations, birthdays or good grades. Thank your spouse for preparing that special dinner. Don’t forget to hug and show other signs of acceptance, affection or appreciation. Be sure you show up for support if your child has a ball game. And, be present and on time for the PTA meeting.
4. Compliment character more than talent. All too often in our world today the emphasis is on sports, popularity, physical appearance, ability and money. Everyone encourages, praises and supports the best three-point shooter. A star quarterback is treated like a king. Television convinces our daughters that in order to be successful you have to look like a tall and thin model. On the other hand don’t forget to give high fives to the basketball star who exhibits good sportsmanship even when he doesn’t score. Give credit to the football star who respects the coach’s decision to allow others to play. Praise the young lady who befriends an overweight classmate. Over time, talent made fade or be lost, but the principles of honesty, caring, sharing, respect responsibility and love—character will last a lifetime.
The road to success will not be easy. Racism, financial hardship and more might hinder you path. However, as Bill Clinton said at Coretta Scott King’s service, "the difficulty of success does not give you an excuse to give up." Mrs. King did not give up even after the untimely death of her husband. My mom and dad defied the adversity and hardship to raise nine children, who all graduated from college and beyond, never had any encounters with the wrong side of the law and most important, all are still in the church and always willing to help others.
Remember! Life is about ups and downs, successes and failures. How well we survive depends on how well we get up when we fall down. The love of God and the love of family (not only our individual families but also our community families) are the hydraulic jacks that we need to lift us up. Let us all go to battle to recapture and secure our families so that the tradition will live on.
Larry C. Harris, MD is a graduate of Yale University and Duke University Medical School. He runs a private pediatric practice in Fayetteville, NC. The second of 9 children, Dr. Harris lives in Fayetteville, NC with his wife and two children. He is the author of the book, “It All Starts At Home: 15 Ways to Put Family First.” Visit his website at www.itallstartsathome.com.
Copyright Larry C. Harris, MD, 2006. Used by permission BlackandChristian.com