On family life and participatory parenting – 23 November 2012

On family life and participatory parenting (written by Carina)

Introductory seminar – 23/24 November 2012

presented by Stephan and Carina as part of Marriage Enrichment seminar held at Kobe

In contemporary society, we tend to value activity. We believe that our children should be exposed to as much as possible opportunities for enriching their lives.  These activities usually happen OUTSIDE the house, away from the family. We as parents are also busy. Busy with jobs, the household, hobbies, maybe sport…This is the reality of modern day life. A life filled to its brim with ‘business’. Many parents are suffering of overwork. Experiencing stress every day. Sometimes just barely surviving.

And children? Children suffer of an overload. Overload of activities. Of information. And their own stress and pressures.

We are also well aware of the problems of bullying and abuse, pressure to perform academically (even more so in a struggling economy), peer pressure, etc. We believe that a simple change of focus might make a big difference in family life, parenting, and children’s ability to cope with stress and pressures outside the home.

A Change of focus of one outside the family (in terms of enriching opportunities for parents and children that just suck up already limited time for family life) to one inside the family. A change in order to understand the importance of family and to live it out in a concrete and practical way.

It is challenge in any country, but maybe especially in Japan, where there are many opportunities and it is easy to be sucked into this maelstrom of society and its expectations of our children and of us as parents. As children grow older time in school also increases.

Competition becomes more and more tough. It is really difficult to know how to react to these increasing demands on everybody’s time.

However, the truth is that the security and loving comfort of a home cannot be replaced with even the best opportunities outside the house. The security and loving comfort of a family is not only necessary for optimal learning to take place, but also for the emotional stability of our children, for their growth to mature into balanced adults. But more importantly: for your relationship with your children. For children to understand that you value them and that family life is one of your highest priorities. Not just a family in name, but an abundant, rich family life.

Any family – whether Christian or not – would aspire to an abundant, rich family life. Wouldn’t they? However, what about the Christian family? What about our God-ordained task of discipling our children? Of teaching our children (Deut 6: 4-8) at every opportunity about God?

BUT to be able to disciple our children we need TIME with them. TIME to influence them. TIME to talk with them. TIME to build a relationship with them. What was Jesus method of teaching his disciples? He walked with them. He ate with them. He told them stories. He spent time with them.

In terms of the pressures and problems of society: If the family can create a supportive atmosphere it can help children to cope with these pressures and problems. Granted, it is not a full-proof guarantee…much of the outcome cannot be decided by parents – it is through God’s grace alone.  But by living intentionally (intentionally fostering our family life) we are obeying God’s command to disciple our own children and we are trying our best to give our children a good security net.

“The world in which we live is like a fortress of darkness in which our souls are imprisoned. Yet we are called by the Lord to sing the songs of redemption and freedom to our children so that when they hear our voice and respond to his songs, they may be rescued from darkness.” (Psalm 137)

The point is: importance of time together with your children…not only quality time…quantity time. That will mean sacrifices on your part. As Jesus, God’ son, washed the feet of disciples, sacrificing himself, his time, his power – we have to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of our most important disciples – our children.

In The Well-Adjusted Child, Rachel Gathercole mentions “the detachment snowball.”  This term was coined by Dr William Sears in The Baby Book.  She says, “According to this idea, the more time parents and kids spend apart, the less parents know and understand their kids; the less responsive, respectful, and communicative both parents and kids become; and the more time both need away from each other.”

Of course, it will take hard work. It will mean a day by day sacrifice on our parts as parent. It will mean lots of prayer and thought to discern what activities and opportunities are important and what are not necessary. And each family will have to make their own choices according to their specific family dynamics. Not one family will look the same.


What we are going to do now, is not part of this hard work. But it is a beginning to encourage a focus-shift and a vision for time together.  For working on the family (just as you would have to work on your marriage):


There are many activities that you CAN do to enrich your family life, but since this is just an introductory session, we propose that you choose a family day and then decide on a ritual that you will repeat if possible. For example every Friday night you will play games together (board game) and eat something the kids enjoy (like pizza).

And as far as possible you try to respect your family day.



Make a sheet of paper for each child. List out the things in your life that you think each child would say competes with his or her time with you. Choose one thing that you can eliminate.


Questionnaire about family life

  1. What purpose do you think God had in mind when he designed the role of a parent (mother or father)?
  2. Have you ever specifically considered that, in becoming a parent, you have actually been called to a ministry? In what way does that concept change how you think about your role as a parent?
  3. What is your vision for your family?

Comments (3)

Ilana KilianDecember 6th, 2012 at 8:31 PM

WOW Carina, sonder enige verwagting en meer bloot uit nuuskierigheid, lees ek jou insette in die artikel en ai, ek mis jou en is net weer herinner aan die TIME we have to spend…baie dankie, baie ver van jou het ek vanaand net weer jou wysheid met groot bevrediging ingeneem…

Ricus GroenewaldDecember 12th, 2012 at 6:17 AM

Baie insiggewende artikel oor familie lewe wat die spyker op die kop slaan! Die rede hoekom ons gemeenskappe vol misdaad is, is juis oor die gebrek aan tyd met ons kinders! Daar is altyd iets belangriker om te doen!
Om die balans te kry tussen jou werksverpligtinge en familietyd is natuurlik die grootste struikelblok om bg. te verwesenlik. Daarmee saam, die finansiele druk wat daar is om albei ouers te laat werk veroorsaak, ook verminderde tyd met ons kinders. Nie te min is daar ook nuttige wenke in die artikel om ons te help heermee. Dankie Carina vir die artikel!

[…] … ons ‘n huweliks-verrykingseminaar bygewoon wat deur Tobie en Annalie gefasiliteer is. Carina het ook ‘n inleidende stuk geskryf oor ons eie benadering tot familie-wees en deelnemende ouerskap, wat ons saam aangebied het in een sessie. Lees dit hier… […]

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