[This article is part of the ‘Honor Parents, Value Soulmate’ series. View other parts of this series here.]
We underestimate the power of family in our lives. Just like we eat different nutrients and vitamins to help us develop, God places a variety people in our lives to form us in different ways. Family is a core ingredient for healthy development. God intended families to be there to love us – and to teach us to love. He placed family in our lives to teach us to value others and give selflessly.
Fathers – A father is a powerful person in our lives. A godly father is authority figure in our lives who helps define us as a whole human being – separate, individual. We are born a male or a female, but we look up to a father to reassure us of our manhood or womanhood, our masculinity and feminity.
Our father is like water is to a sapple plant. Throughout our lives, he helps us grow if we stay planted in his care and close to him. If we lack a fatherly input or if we have been rebellious to him or taken him for granted, our our security as a ‘whole’ man or woman may be weak and be stunted in growth.
If we lack a fathers input or diregard him in our lives, we may have a failure to love and commit, an inability to love fully and wholeheartedly. We have not been affirmed in who we really are as a man or a woman. Guys may not be able to lead. Girls may be may find it difficult to follow a Godly mans asserted leadership. A father is God natural leadership in a family. If we lack that leadership, we need to allow God to change our mindsets to how God’s kingdom works, instead of placing everything in the mould of how we grew up.
Derek Prince said: “You see the realisation of fatherhood will give you identity, it will give you security, it will give you motivation…” 
Dr James Dobson of Focus on the Family says of fathers and daughters: “Fathers have an incalculable impact on their daughters. Most psychologists believe, and I am one of them, that all future romantic relationships to occur in a girl’s life will be influenced positively or negatively by the way she perceives and interacts with her dad. If he rejects and ignores her, she will spend her life trying to replace him in her heart. If he is warm and nurturing, she will look for a lover to equal him. If he thinks she is beautiful, worthy, and feminine, she will be inclined to see herself that way. But if he thinks she is unattractive and uninteresting, she is likely to carry self-esteem problems into her adult years.”
In his book, ‘Making peace with your father’, Dr David Stoop says, “Our fathers, yours and mine, have played a major role in making us who we are today. Their successes have strengthened us, their failures have weakened us… The journey toward Dad is a perilous but necessary voyage. We must all take it if we want to be whole.” 
He says: “If you feel that your father has a lot to do with the person you are today, you are absolutely right.” 
Dr Stoop says that fathers have a contribution during every stage of childrens lives. In the context of this series: ‘future romantic relationships’, Stoop suggests that a father contribution during early childhood allows the child to move away from mom and establish themselves as a separate person, to lay groundwork for development of a childs sexual development, and lay a foundation for interaction in future years. 
From the ages of 6 to 12, the father helps foster self confidence, helps the child to learn to contain and control personality and emotions – especially anger. The father clarifies sexual identity for the child and provides a parenting model. 
In the teen years, fathers teach a child how to relate to two people at the same time, be a source of competition and modelling as a son grows to manhood, and affirm a daughters feminity and her growth toward womanhood. A father provides a parenting model, and model a good marrige relationship. 
“Significant father abscence during early childhood has been linked to a number of problems occuring later in children’s lives, including male homosexuality, adolscent drug use, delinquency, poor performance in school and on standardized test, and childhood depression. More particularly, girls with missing fathers may grow to be women who are overly dependant on mothers, having difficulty relating sexually, and are unable to work effectively.” 
Many of our fathers have been absent in our lives, – we may look to our imperfect father for it. We may look to others around us to fulfill it. We know we want it and need it… but we never truly find it until we look up to God as our perfect father. He will never let us down. He is always there for us. He will draw close to us when we invite Him into our life!
Mothers – If a father defines our manhood or feminity, our mother refines us. Although this series focuses mainly of the critical role of father, and, how valuing both parents allows us to value our future mate, – we need to mention the importance that a mother has in our lives.
Our mother nurtures us and helps define the ‘details’ in our lives. As we grow she loves us and in turn we learn how to love others. A mother often helps define our faith and teaches us the finer aspects of life. We look to her to show us how to live life and handle every little detail. She trains us to grow up with good habits (or at least tries to) like cleanliness, caring for others etc. She is an example to us of how to relate to people with good manners and she can be a good example of how to build good committed relationships.
If somebody does not have a mother, or dishonours their mother, they will often grow up lacking the refined habits in life. We also pick up the finer touches of reacting to people from our mother, so if a persons mother has been divorced, had belittling attitudes to the men in their life, or took control of the house, she can pass on those same mindsets to her children.
Brothers and Sisters – Brothers and sisters are the companions God places in our lives to challenge and support us. We love them, we hate them, we laugh with them,we cry with them and we learn to quickly get over arguments with them without holding grudges.
They teach us how to relate to others that come into our life in future. If fathers define our manhood, mothers refine us, brothers and sisters are there to round off our stiff corners and knock us into shape (ask anybody from a big family).
God also created them as a backup to our mother and father. The time we spend valuing brothers or sisters is time well invested, – we are learning how to relate to the man of woman that God brings into our lives.
Family – Many our us have taken our families for granted. He created each part of our family for a reason. While the above may not be an exact science, it shows that we a challenged by, develop, grow and are challenged by various members of our family.
Someone once said: “God uses our family to locate weaknesses in you before your enemy locates those weaknesses. If you can survive your family, you can survive your future.”
If we can’t tolerate and put up with the faults of those that we have been brought up – the family that we live in, we’ll never tolerate our future husband or wife. A family is indeed the practice ground for life!
[This article is part of the ‘Honor Parents, Value Soul Mate’ series. View other parts of this series and references here.]
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