Meeting the Needs of Today's Families
In this election year, "family values" is the hot issue. But no one
is quite sure what it means. That's because families aren't what
they used to be. Barbara Bush acknowledged the diversity when she
said, "However you define family, that's what we mean by family
According to the Census Bureau, American households consist of the
- Eight percent have a married couple with one working
- Nine percent are headed by single parents-seven million by a
woman and 1.6 million by a man.
- Nineteen percent are dual-income families.
- Twenty-eight percent are married couples without children.
- 3.2 million children live with a grandparent.
It's easy to see why political parties have trouble defining
"family values." But God has commissioned the church to value
families-whatever their values are.
How can you meet this hodgepodge of families' needs? Let's look at
each family type specifically.
*Traditional family-The traditional family has one working
parent and a stay-at-home parent. Dr. Norm Wakefield, professor of
pastoral ministries at Western Seminary Phoenix in Arizona and
co-author of The Dad Difference, says, "I think one of the things
[the traditional] family needs is some healthy models." Wakefield
suggests setting up a mentoring relationship between young parents
and older parents in the church who've chosen the same
Single-income, traditional families often struggle financially.
Joel, a working parent in a traditional family, says, "Midweek
programs, such as Awana, are good. We can't afford private schools
so the added training balances the public school."
Mike and Amy also appreciate it when the church helps out
financially. Providing babysitting for evening Bible studies and
weekday women's programs are a great way for children's ministries
to help traditional families.
*Dual-income family-Spouses need to take time out to
strengthen their relationship, but it's easy for working parents to
lead separate lives. Your church can encourage working parents to
plan regular times together. You can make it easier for parents by
organizing a regular parents' night out.
Accommodate working parents by providing a variety of ways for them
to give and serve. These parents may not have the emotional
reserves or time to teach a class, but they can provide snacks, be
prayer partners or volunteer at special events.
A variety of activities and flexible scheduling can benefit all
families. But weeknight programs often burden working parents and
rob them of family time. Make sure your church's Sunday morning
activities meet the spiritual and fellowship needs of dual-income
families-rather than depending solely on weeknight fellowship
groups to do so.