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“Normal” Families

Every family – regardless of what it looks like – should be treated with honor, respect, and love.

Many people across the U.S. will be celebrating Father’s Day this month. As a dad, I don’t look forward to Father’s Day for the gifts. Although, I do like the gifts! Rather, I look forward to the time I get to spend with my wife and children. I am grateful to God for the relationship I have with my daughter and son. They are two of the greatest blessings I have ever received.

Father’s Day was not always a happy day for me. I grew up in a single parent household at a time when some people looked down upon family configurations that were not considered “normal.” I remember being in elementary school and being required by my teacher to make a Father’s Day card for a man who was not in my life. I can still remember the looks my classmates gave me; the whole situation was really hurtful.

For those who work in children and youth ministries, our young people come to us from various forms of family. There is no “normal” family. Some children have a mother and father at home, while others have one parent. Some young folks are raised by a grandparent and others are adopted or in foster care. Some youth have two moms, and some have two dads. Whatever the configuration, it’s not about what we consider “right” or “wrong.” All the families of our young people deserve love and respect, and that respect should be given when the families are both in and out of our presence. With more challenging families, it is easy to be judgmental, saying and thinking negative things about them. However, we should do our best to treat our families as those made in the image of God.

I am reminded that Jesus was a refuge and immigrant. Most scholars agree that Jesus’ father, Joseph, died by the time Jesus started his earthly ministry. Therefore, Jesus was likely fatherless (from a human perspective). He was conceived out of wedlock by a teenage mother. He may have been considered poor growing up – we just don’t know. What we do know is he was looked down upon because of his family.

Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.” (Matthew 13:54-57)

Let us make sure that we honor our children and their families. When we look at them, let us picture Jesus in our mind. Let us love them with the love of Christ. Let us partner with families and work with them to see our children thrive. Who knows what God can do? After all, he knows firsthand that great people can come from the most unlikely families.

Dishon Mills, Generations Ministry Coordinator

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