Creating a family identity


The value of being intentional about your family's identity

By Connie Faber

I was embarrassed and angry. Our family outing on this beautiful day was ruined for me thanks to the behavior of our three children. We were visiting a new zoo in the area. Our two daughters were in grade school, and our son was a preschooler. We were about halfway through the exhibits, and the children’s constant bickering was getting worse. I wanted them to stop, but I also wanted to do something that had the potential of preventing future squabbling. I do not like being around quarreling children and yelling parents, and I didn’t want that to characterize our family.

Thinking through the options, I recalled an article published in the Christian Leader. The author challenged parents to intentionally establish goals for their family and a plan for achieving those goals. My husband and I weren’t all that interested in pursuing the author’s recommended process for developing family goals. But we liked the idea of being deliberate about creating a family identity, of thinking about our family witness as a unit—not just as individuals.

This seemed like a good opportunity to start creating that identity. So I took a deep breath and using my best firm but calm voice I told the kids that Fabers do not behave like this in public. That when we squabbled, it didn’t say good things about us as a family, and it wasn’t a good testimony of us as followers of Jesus.

It felt weird to talk about “being Fabers.” I wasn’t sure how the kids would respond. Much to my surprise, the bickering stopped and our visit to the zoo ended much more pleasantly than it had begun. I can’t say that our children never again argued in public—we’re a pretty normal family—but I don’t recall that it was ever quite that bad again. And my husband and I became more comfortable talking about the attitudes and behaviors we expected of our family.  

Several of the articles in this issue address identity and priorities in families and churches. The article on youth sports encourages families involved with these activities to look for ways to intentionally reinforce their family values within the youth sports culture. Birch Bay (Wash.) Bible Church is a USMB congregation that is well known in the community for opening its doors for community gatherings.  

As followers of Jesus Christ, we give witness to our faith as individuals, as families and as congregations. My observation is that we’re well aware of what kind of testimony we offer as individuals and we are cognizant of our identity as congregations. But how deliberate are we as families? If you’ve never talked as a family about your identity as a family unit and how your household can bear witness to your faith, I encourage you to do so.

Connie Faber is the editor of the Christian Leader.



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