Perfect Family vs Functional Family

While Leave it to Beaver, is a classic American homage to how families should behave, it is completely ostracizing to 100% of all families. Most families cannot contain their arguments, problems, and antics to a simple 25 minutes. The Cleavers were a more or less perfect family. In this perfect family category includes: The Huxtables (The Cosby Show), The Banks (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), The Bradys (The Brady Bunch), The Seavers (Growing Pains), The Waltons (The Waltons), The Camdens (7th Heaven). All the families, were so lovable and I’m not going to lie I aspired to be like them. They were the perfect family, and mine just was not like theirs. The parents always were present and knew what to say. The kids were obedient, except for small displays of defiance. Even shows like Modern Family don’t grasp at realistic families. They are diverse families and more contemporary versions of what society defines as “family”, but they are still perfect.

Perfect families do not translate into reality though. We cannot script our lives or our circumstances. I have learned that from my children. Families fit into two categories: functional or nonfunctional. Functional families are not without perpetual tensions they have to manage or problems that need to be solved. It doesn’t mean that they don’t experience job loss, early death, devastating sickness, poverty, or life’s brutal pains. Functional families face issues, but functional families work to rectify situations. Nonfunctional families have the same problems, but do not look to solve them or simply can’t.

Looking at my childrens’ families, I have to take time to look at mine. My family is by no means perfect. I wish I had a relationship with my dad like Michelle, Stephany, and DJ had with Danny on Full House. I wish I had uncles and aunts and cousins around like in Parenthood. I wish I had the standard teenage years like Lizzie from Lizzie McGuire. But I don’t. I have my life. While, there have been and still are some setbacks in my family unit. We are still functional. My parents are still married. My sister is a Master’s level graduate with NO DEBT! I am a Bachelor’s level graduate with NO DEBT! My brother is now going to college and by the grace of God he will graduate with NO DEBT! I am working in Texas right now away from my family in Georgia. I am the product of an adequately functional family with some problems that we are still solving. I am functional.

I look at my kids and listen to their stories. Their childhood problems were not mine. I never worried about my safety. I feared the occasional monster in my closet, but nothing was ever there. My children know poverty. My children know violence. My children are survivalists. Nonfunctional families breed survivalists. My children are not overly concerned about learning or developing mental skills. My children simply want to survive to see the next day. They want to know NO ONE will hurt them. They don’t want to see a gun fired or a knife pulled. They want to be fed. They need to be cared for.

Nevertheless, I cannot look down on their families. Nonfunctional families are generational. How can you adequately raise children when you were not adequately raised?

God thank you for my family. They are perfect by no means, but I know all of us are personally seeking you. We want your will for us individually. We want you to put us back together and restore our functionality. I pray for my childrens’ parents. I pray You change their hearts and in turn change their lives. We are all struggling. We all fail and fall. Our patience wears thin and our encouragement dwindles. We feel so alone and unrelatable. We don’t know what to do sometimes. We feel inadequate and discourage. Encourage them. Let these parents know how much You love them and how much their children love them. Help them on their journey to stability.

Let the cycle of nonfunctional families stop with our children. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God that is exactly what my kids need. They need to prosper. They need hope. They need a future. Release that to them. God, I look at them now and see so many amazing things for them. I actually see a future linebacker and my future princess will probably be a future doctor, and if I can see that after a couple of weeks, I know you can see so much more. So give them a hope and a future.

Again, thank you for them. I couldn’t ask for more perfect children. Spit and all, our children have outstanding potential.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

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