Summary: Part of a series on the keys to raising healthy kids; this ones deals with the importance of having fun as a family.

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TEXT: Various Texts

Sunday, July 21, 2002

We have been talking about parenting and some of the tools for parenting. The first week we talked about the importance of discipline. We balance discipline with affirmation or love. We were reminded to be flexible.

There is a fourth tool we are to use. To represent this fourth tool I am using a thermos to represent break time. The fourth tool of parenting is the importance of having some fun. There was a time when parenting circles talked about “quality time” which was compared with “quantity time.” Child experts said that the quality of time was more important than the quantity of time. Then we discovered over time that this does not work. Children need quality time and a large quantity of it.

I like the term “fun” better because you can have quality time and not have fun. Many parents think they are going to have fun with their children and decide to go to Disneyworld. They drag their children to the park and they have a miserable time. You see, we take our inflated, out-of-proportion work ethic and apply to our vacation time. We see vacation time as a short span of time during which we need to show our kids how to have a good time, so we pack as much activity as possible into our vacations so that we can make family memories. But all the while, our kids have a horrible time because we are treating our vacations and our down-time just like we treat our work. Our lives haven’t changed at all–we are still living the busy life.

Far more damaging than drugs, alcohol, abuse, teen rebellion and absent fathers and mothers is the busy life. Child psychologists call it the frantic family syndrome. Does this describe you? We live in an age of the half-read page. We live in the mad passion and the quick dash, the bright night with the nerves tight, the plane hop and the brief stop, the lamp tan and the short span, the big shot in a good spot, the brain strain and the heart’s pain, the cat naps until the spring snaps and the joy is gone. Does this describe your life? Is the fun gone from it?

If so, do what one town did in the 1990’s when recession was predicted. Outside the city limits, this sign was posted: “We understand that a serious recession is supposed to happen this year, but we decided not to participate.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if outside every home there was a sign much like this.

We understand that families are not spending much time together and are falling apart as a result due to the hurried lifestyle. We can decide not to participate. Our calling is not to live by the world’s claims–our calling is to live by Christ’s call.

How do we keep from living the hurried life when it is modeled all around us? We will take a look at some scripture passages and some principles of how we can have fun .

John 8:36 says this, “So if Christ has set us free, we are free indeed.” We are freed from the systems of the world, we are freed from the way of doing things by the world’s standards. Why are we working so hard? Is it so we can buy the right car, get the right job, have the right house, marry the right girl and have a nice bunch of kids for whom we can provide a great education so that they can get the right job and buy the right car and have the right house and marry the right spouse so they can have great kids and provide a great education so they can grow up one day and get the right job.....

On, and on, and on it goes. Is that the whole purpose for our existence? Is that all there really is? No wonder people have lost joy and lost fun. Their energies are sapped because we are living an insignificant life, and that’s not what God called us to. God has called us to have a relationship with Him and a relationship with others. Isn’t that the most important thing?

Alan Peters reflects on this subject: “What do you think would be our last unscheduled thought and word if you knew that in a moment or two your life would be over? Let’s put this into context. Every nook and cranny of the big 747 was crowded, and it took off in the middle of the night in Brazil where I had been speaking. As it moved into the night, I began to doze. I didn’t know how long I slept but I was startled awake when I heard a strong voice announcing, “We have a serious situation. Three engines have gone because of fuel contamination, and the fourth engine is about to go.” The steward said in English, “Now you must do exactly as we tell you. Don’t anyone think of doing anything we do not suggest. Your life depends on this. We are trained for your safety, so you must do exactly as we tell you.” The plane veered and banked as the crew tried to get it back to the airport. The steward ran up and down the aisle and barked out orders, “Now take the card in front of you in the seat pocket.” I have traveled millions of miles and I thought I had that card memorized, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember a thing. I couldn’t even find that crazy card. Everyone looked stunned as we felt the plane plunge down, down, down. Finally, the steward said, “Tighten your seatbelt as tight as you can, bury your head between your legs.” Everyone started to pray, and I found myself praying in a way I never thought of doing. As I buried my head in my lap and pulled my knees up, convinced that it was over, I said, “Oh, God. Thank you for the incredible privilege of knowing you. Thank you that life has been wonderful.” As the plane was going down, my last cry, “Oh, God, my wife and my children.” I should say for the sake of you, the reader, that I survived. As I wandered about in the middle of the night with a knot in my stomach, I couldn’t speak. I ached all over. I thought, “What did I do? What did I say? What were my last thoughts? What was the bottom line?” Here’s the bottom line–relationships.

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