It's such an exciting time when a young married couple has their first child. It's a time of rejoicing and great anticipation for the future. You quickly realize, though, that your life will never be the same. You don't sleep as well, your finances get out of whack, your house is messy all the time, and you carry two or three bags everywhere. How do you deal with all the noise, confusion and chaos that comes with family?
1 Corinthians 14:26-33
26 What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.
27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two--or at the most three--should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret.
28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.
29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.
30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop.
31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.
32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.
33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints,
The key to a happy family is structure and discipline. Structure provides organization and direction for everybody in the family. Good structure provides a framework that can help you carry the load, and keep it all together.
1. Have a schedule
Very early on, it's crucial to get your kids on a schedule. Many families let their babies dictate the schedule--when they eat, sleep, etc. This actually creates more insecurity than security in the children. Getting your children on a schedule creates security and consistency in their lives. A schedule also allows you to do more, without dissolving into chaos. The schedule is the basic structure of the family. Establish it early on!
Parents often wonder how old their kids have to be to start training them. Family expectations must be established very early in the child's life. Most important is what the parents expect of themselves. Equally important is what the parents expect of their children. Your children will rise to the level of your expectations. Expect great things.
3. Discipline to build godly character
Many people make the mistake of disciplining without expectations. Clear expectations give you the foundation for godly discipline of your children. Many developmental experts say a child's character is formed by age five. This means the early years are crucial in forming your child's heart and character. Don't just discipline their actions, but look to the heart.
4. God first
It is during this phase that the priority of God and the kingdom is established. This is part of basic family expectations, and will continue throughout their lives. Your kids need to see Mom and Dad having their quiet times every day. Whenever the church meets, your family should be there. Even optional things. With young children, daily family devotionals of 10-15 minutes are best. Memorize Scripture together, let them see you share your faith. Young children love to do things for God as a family. Take advantage of that.
5. Outward focus
This is the time in life to train your children to have an outward focus, to be warm, give hugs, greet visitors. Have lots of people over. This is the time where they will learn to sacrifice, share and think of others. Decide early on to expect your children to be friendly, and work on their hearts.
6. Bless your family
First Chronicles 15-16 describes David bringing the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem. David was busy for days and weeks planning and orchestrating this event.
Look at what he did when it was all over:
1 Chronicles 16:43
Then all the people left, each for his own home, and David returned home to bless his family.
David didn't just go home and collapse, but he went and blessed his family. Often young families are overwhelmed and exhausted all the time. It is a challenging phase of life, but structure allows you to get it all done joyfully.
Above all, be determined to enjoy this phase in the development of your marriage and family--it is one of the happiest times in life.