Summary: The challenge not just for mothers but families is to develop and maintain an environment in which affirmation, acceptance, and appreciation, can thrive and grow.

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One of the classic episodes of the Dick Van Dyke Show concerns a problem that Ritchie is having with a girl named Priscilla. For a period of time he comes home every afternoon after school battered and bruised by this girl.

Rob and Laura are at a loss to know what to do and so Laura goes and visits Priscilla’s parents and discovers an aggressive mother and passive father. Well Laura and the mother have words and Laura storms out of the house.

In light of no resolution with Priscilla’s parents, Rob and Laura hesitantly make the decision to tell Ritchie it is okay to defend him self against Priscilla. The next day Rob comes home early from work to see what happened. Ritchie has not come home yet and both Rob and Laura anxiously wait his arrival.

Well Ritchie comes in and is ready to play. Rob and Laura stop him and ask how the day went and if it Priscilla hit him. Ritchie said that she did and they ask if he hit her back. No says Ritchie she’s a girl and I don’t hit girls. So, ask his parents, what did you do? I kissed her.

You kissed her, they ask incredulously. Yes, every day she kept telling me kiss me or I’ll beat you up. Shocked and dismayed at this new information they asked why didn’t you tell us this? Because it was too yucky to talk about!

Wouldn’t it be nice if that is all families had to worry about? But, it isn’t, is it?

Last Sunday in our Kendallville newspaper there were two columns in the editorial section that remind us what families, and moms, are up against these days. Bill O’Reilly, the Fox News personality and news analyst wrote one column and Kathleen Parker, a syndicated columnist, wrote the other one.

O’Reilly’s column sent chills up my spine because in it he exposes some current writing, in this county, about adult-child sex. He of course, is very much against it, as I am, and I think all of us here are also. But, it disturbs me very, very much that the views he exposes in this column are putting children at risk.

He closes his column with this statement, “this is not a great time for kids in America. I feel for them. We adults have let them down. On many different levels, children are not being protected from harm in this county. And in the marketplace of ideas, that is one tragic development.”

Parker’s column dealt with the hubbub over the departure of Karen Hughes, one of President Bush’s top advisors and the message it presumably sends to girls that “powerful, high-earning women can’t also rear children successfully.” Parker takes issue with that view. She suggests that the demands and pressure of this very important job has “taken a toll on [Karen Hughes’] family, which apparently she values above status, power, and money.”

What’s my point? Not just moms, but dads, and for that matter, families, are being tossed around like ping-pong balls in a turbulent wind tunnel trying to keep it together. Where does it end? And how do we deal with it as mothers, as parents, as families, as the people of God?

For the next two Sundays we are going to look at what Josh McDowell calls the “six steps to a loving family relationship.” I call them the “Six A’s To A Healthy Family” and this morning we will look at 3 of the 6: affirmation, acceptance, and appreciation.

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