DATES: 6-12 DECEMBER 2022
The joy of love experienced by different families is also the joy of Christian church today. Is indeed a great gift for families to live in unity and harmony always. It is in the family that all of us learn what it means to love and be loved, to forgive, and to be forgiven and how to maintain relationships over time. The family is called to welcome others, in particular the Children and to care for those in need.
Since everyone comes from a family, marriage brings together not only husband and wife, but also brothers, sisters, in-laws and all extended family members. These new relationships can bring joy and a rich sense of belonging to a couple, but they can also be challenging to navigate at times. In addition, it is important for spouses to recognize how their family of origin affects their assumptions, behaviours, and values in order to best relate to one’s spouse who may have had a very different upbringing.
Nowadays families are facing challenges especially in our youths because of drug and substance abuse. I call upon families to put their heads together to minimise or eradicate this menace that has robbed the future of youths. In that spirit of giving family its rightful place in the world, this booklet has been prepared so as to be an eye opener to all people from all generation. This is because everyone comes from, and is an essential part of a certain family somewhere. Let us use it for the physical, social and spiritual nourishment of our families.
May God bless the people called Methodists.
Revd. Dr. E. Mashonganyika (Acting Mission Director)
The Methodist Church in Zimbabwe is a rich church and that richness is evidenced by the way Methodists, both clergy and laity, sit down and come up with literature that address all aspects of Christian, social, economic, political and religious life. This booklet is one of such products. As the Research and Publications Committee we want to extend our gratitude to the church leadership, headed by the Presiding Bishop Rev. G.T. Mawire; the Connexional Lay President Mr. G. Hanyane; the General Secretary Rev. Dr. M Mujinga; the Mission Director Rev. B. Chinhara for keeping the legacy alive. Our Districts, Circuits, Societies Leaderships play a pivotal role as they are the ones who make sure that literature reaches all our members throughout the connexion and abroad.
2022 Family Week booklet was prepared by Revd. C. Mazulu. We want to thank the woman of God for such high level degree of commitment and generosity. “God bless you Reverend”. We also thank Rev. O. Masawi for editing the manuscripts. We appreciate the work done by our local languages translators (Ndebele, Shona, Tonga and Kalanga) in making sure that this booklet reaches all Methodists in their local languages.
God bless people called Methodists.
Revd. O. Chagudhuma (Research and Publications Coordinator)
DAY 1 TOPIC: THE IDEAL FAMILY
READINGS: EPHESIANS 5:22-25, 6: 1
In life, it is difficult to readily come across an ideal or perfect family. There are many households that strive to attain this noble status with many falling by the way side but others achieving it. Most, if not all of those that are fortunate enough to live perfect lives as families are Christians or God fearing members of the society. The road to an ideal family begins with a husband and a wife. The two usually come from different backgrounds with divergent ideas and traditions. The first step for the two is to understand each other and endeavour to meet halfway. This may also cascade to their children.
The following are just a few of many factors that help to mould a happy perfect family
RESPECT: Family members should respect and love one another. Husbands must love their wives and wives in turn ought to submit to their husbands. Children ought to obey their parents.
CONFIDENTIALITY: Family secrets have to remain in the home unless family members decide otherwise and agree to let the cat out of the bag. Children must be taught at tender age not to rush to everyone and divulge the family secrets to every Jack and Jill.
LOYALTY & TRUST: It is prudent for family members to be loyal to each other. There are several cases of family disloyalties sited in the Bible. We have Samson and Delilah (Judges 16); Reuben and Bilhah his fathers’ polygamous wife (Gen. 35:22); Jesus and Judas Iscariot etc. Husbands have to defend their spouses and wives defend their husbands. Children need to stand by their parents while the parents do likewise for their children.
PRAYERFUL: A prayerful family is usually a happy family. Besides separate and undivided prayers behind closed doors a family needs to allocate time for praying as a group. This strengthens the family bond and encourage the younger members to put their trust in God.
FORGIVENESS: It is crucial for family members to learn to forgive each other for whatever wrong one would have done to the other. The Lord Jesus Christ had to forgive those who murdered him on the cross.
DIALOGUE: Parents converse with each other. Share sorrows and happy moments. Talk to your children. Understand their points of view. Guide them. Reprimand kids when they deliberately go astray but avoid condemning them. Encourage children to let their goals in life be known by family members in order to receive advice and inspiration.
CONTENTMENT: Many families end up in deep trouble after trying to live the lives of their neighbours or extended family relatives. In times of need, families have to be content with whatever God allowed them to possess. Hardships have to be endured as a family unit putting trust in the Lord.
OPEN DOOR POLICY: An ideal family does not segregate on who should or should not enter their homes. All men are equal in God’s eyes.
ONE CHURCH POLICY: A family whose members go to several different churches usually have different perceptions and beliefs. Squabbles are bound to sprout due to divergent church policies. Although everyone has a freedom of worship it is wise for a family to worship in one church denomination for the sake of unity in the home.
APPRECIATION: Family members should appreciate one another for whatever good deeds done. This can be done verbally or material presentation. Appreciation change behaviour and reinforces a positive self-image.
In conclusion, a Christian family will have all members committed to Christ and His service. When a husband, wife, and children all fulfil their God-appointed roles, then peace and harmony reign in the home. But, if we try to have a Christian family without Christ as Head or without adhering to the biblical principles the Lord has lovingly provided for us, the home will suffer.
Thoughts of the day: Is an ideal family possible?
DAY 2 TOPIC: HOW TO BUILD A RESPONSIBLE FAMILY
READINGS: LUKE 15: 11-30
Introduction: Most families are struggles with responsibilities of other family members who cannot fend for themselves. They ask for food, fees, rentals and bills from their siblings. Who is at fault when these people become irresponsible? From the above scripture, did the father did his job thoroughly? From the writer’s point of view, the father trained the elder son and spoiled the younger one (prodigal son). Let us look at some of the characteristics of the 3 (the father, the elder son and the younger son).
Think of what would have happened if the father died immediately after his return. Was he going to get another share? This parable is teaching us to pull available resources together to avoid conflicts. Parents should treat their children equally. No gathering, partying or function should be done without notifying other family members. Spoiled children are a disaster to the family bond.
Hard work is the source of success in families. Poverty comes when family members are irresponsible. Let us strive hard to build responsible families to avoid dependency syndrome, being abused and unnecessary conflicts within the family.
DAY 3 TOPIC: THE EFFECTS OF COVID-19 ON FAMILIES
READINGS: ECCLESIASTES 3:1-3
The covid virus was first detected towards the end of 2019 in China, hence the name covid19. When the virus was first detected it showed flu like symptoms, but it tended to migrate to the lungs quickly and had the tendency of causing serious respiratory problems. It was also very contagious as it spreads very easily among people. This resulted in the virus spreading rapidly to other countries and by the beginning of 2020 it was worldwide pandemic. A raft of measures was put in place to combat the spread of the virus
1) Mandatory wearing of face masks
2) Social distancing
3) Enhanced hygiene and sanitization
4) Quarantine of infected people
5) Limited social gatherings and funerals held under strict WHO guidelines
6) Lockdown measures to control movement of people
The virus has occurred so far in 4 waves with the last 2 the delta and omicron proving to be the most deadly and widespread. The most affected are the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
Effects of covid 19 on families
1) Health – The physical and mental health of families were affected because most people suffered, nursed or lost a family member. This situation developed so suddenly and people were not ready to handle the number of sick and dying relatives. Even countries and governments were not prepared to handle the pandemic and there was a lot of panic and a sense of helplessness.
2) Emotional and physiological stress– Families were subjected to a lot of stress facing a situation that was out of control, with sick and dying relatives. Sick relatives and those bereaved were shunned in the name of social distancing and had to bear their cross alone. Number of visitors to hospitals and those allowed to attend funerals were limited and therefore no proper closure was availed to the families.
3) Economic stress
Most businesses had to scale back operations, coupled with the lockdown measures, family earnings were reduced, The mounting medical expenses and high death rates increased stress on families.
4) High birth rates
With the lockdown measures families experienced an increase in birth rates because family planning facilities were either closed or offering limited services. This put stress on already struggling families.
Most children could not attend school for 2 years continuously, only those with e- learning facilities got some education. This promoted negative behaviour of the children and an increase in teenage pregnancy and drug abuse. This again put a lot of stress on the families.
6) The extended family was also destroyed because social interaction was limited. Family members became strangers and were not able to support each other during this trying period. The people in the diaspora could not make the usual visits, all they could do was to send money with no emotional support to the families.
7) Quarantine: The infected persons were also shunned as there was a lot of risk associated with caring for them. Families tended to isolate themselves from any suspected carrier of the virus.
8) Loss of breadwinner: As mentioned earlier the virus was more potent on the elderly and families lost one or both parents and ended up with child headed homes who were in turn shunned by relatives because the stigma associated with the virus.
9) Marriage ceremonies and other family functions were put on hold which in time destroyed family values.
Families should have new perceptions, understanding and embrace the new normal.
DAY 4 TOPIC: FAMILY AND TECHNOLOGY
READINGS: PSALMS 133:1
Technology- is the invention of useful gadgets to solve problems. It can include the creation of gadgets that make life easier. This is a broad definition of technology, and it can encompass many facets like communication technology (social media), computer software and aerodynamics.
The development of technology has dramatically reshaped the society we live in. An enormous multitude of people worldwide employ and benefit from the modern-day technology. Technological innovations have really simplified the access to a good number of vital utilities people need in schooling, industry, health sector, communication, transportation and many more. However, immoderate usage of technology has its downsides, too. Despite the fact that in many instances, the speed of completing tasks increases with the help of technology, most people never notice that technology has changed (and is still changing) our society for the worse, and its considerable development has complicated human life in a variety of ways.
How does technology positively affect family relationships?
Family technology use have a positive and negative effect on family unity. Research on family and technology suggests that time spent online does not reduce the amount of time family spends together. However, the amount of time spent online is associated with decreased feelings of family closeness.
The positive impacts of technology on families
1) Making planning easier: In earlier days the families have to take the hassle of travelling and informing if the day’s plan got changed or they used to keep the hosts uninformed. There used to be a huge wastage of time, energy and efforts for the hosts and the invitees. But thanks to technology, as coordinating the change of plans is just a phone call away!
2) It erases geographical boundaries: With video calling options a person can be virtually present near you when talking even if they are staying abroad. Besides these, students can study online, professionals can hunt for jobs and even work from home online. Families and churches can also share devotion and bible verses on social media platforms.
3) Parents engaging in school activities: With busy work schedules parents find it difficult to make a visit to schools. During all the activities of their child in campus the parents engaging apps have come to rescue. Through communication apps and school portals they can maintain a good relationship with teachers and learn about the progress of their child in schools.
4) It entertains you: Social platforms such as Instagram, Whatsapp, etc can be entertaining. Games and some activities may also keep you entertained.
Negative impacts of technology
1) Lack of quality time spent together: Whether it’s morning breakfast or dinner time everybody is giving half of their focus on their personal screens. This severely affects the professional performance of children who are brought up in such a mechanical environment. It is important to interact with each other at the end of the day when parents and children come back home after their busy schedules to maintain a good bonding among family members. Look at how good and pleasing it is when families live together as one.
2) Limited outdoor activities: Children are now so busy with gadgets and computer games that they hardly go out to play.
3) Setting wrong example: Parents sit inside the home with their screens and advise the children to go out and play. It is important to teach the kids by setting good examples. If parents do not practice what they preach the children won’t follow. “Train children in the way they should go; when they grow old, they won’t depart from it.” — Proverbs 22:6
4) Leading to divorce and loss of jobs: There is a debate on internet addictions and people assert that some websites contribute to cheating on others which often leads to divorce. Some people have also been fired from jobs or put under pressure because they used banned sites at work that undermined the person’s professional standing.
5) Negative effects of television on family life: Families simply sit and ingest what is presented to them without responding or reacting to other family members sitting with them. Exposure to violence and sex make children prone to mimic these behaviours and many lives are destroyed due to such behaviour.
To conclude, families should understand however that even when technologies have made a better place to live; they should not compromise on human values while enjoying it.
DAY 5 TOPIC: FAMILY AND DIASPORA
READINGS: NEHEMIAH 2:1-5
Diaspora is not a new phenomenon in Zimbabwean families. The economic situation forced people to search for greener pastures abroad. Some went there because of scholarships and work transfers. This brought positive and negative consequences to many families.
Positive effects of diaspora on families
Migration is an opportunity for both the country and the remaining relatives to earn significant higher income to the whole family as well as the country. Standards of living for the remaining family members has significantly improved due to the emergency of diasporas. Many of the Zimbabwean families are being sustained by remittances from diaspora and it has contributed to a significant developments within the country and families.
2. Work, Mobility and exposure
Due to lack of opportunity in the country, diaspora has become a breakthrough option to many families in the country. This has aided to a lot of improvements in the lives of families.
Negative effects of family and diaspora
1. The emergence of ‘diaspora orphans’ over the course of Zimbabwe’s crisis
The debates over this phenomenon reflect a range of real emotional and practical problems encountered by children and youth with parents abroad. The negative stereotyping of ‘diaspora orphans’ reflects the moral discourse circulating within families, schools and societies. The diaspora orphans are now associated with various negative characteristics which include labelled as delinquent and reckless with life, snobbish and profligate, disrespectful and lacking in good manners, as well as abused, emotionally deprived, and neglected. These traits are attributed to their lack of role models and effective disciplinarians, or to being spoilt by excessive provisions. Despite the original purpose of benefiting children, parental migration resulted in challenges in child psychosocial well-being, due to the emotional impacts from prolonged parent-child separation. Parental absence also led to inadequate care and support for left-behind children. The negative effects of parental migration may be exacerbated by other vulnerabilities such as parents’ divorce, poverty and grandparent caregivers’ frailty. Concerns about child well-being made some migrants decide to return home permanently, because of the altered trade-offs of migration.
Migration creates emotional displacement both for migrants and the children and this will have a detrimental impact on the children’s health, education, emotional stability and behaviour. Although some family copy well with migration some however see it as a form of abandonment or rejection, therefore adopting of several deviant behavioural patterns.
2. Creation of transnational parenting
The perspectives of those who fulfil substitute parental caring roles for children left behind, and of the moral dimensions of debates over the role of money and material goods in intimate relationships of care for children. It adds a new strand to debates over African youths by focusing not on the problems created through entrapment by poverty, but on the emotional consequences of parents’ spatial mobility in middle class families where material resources may be ample.
3. Difficulties in dependents entry.
Despite the appeal of educational opportunities for children in some diaspora countries, problems in securing dependents’ entry and the cost and difficulty of supporting and caring for children can lead parents to keep their kids in Zimbabwe. In addition, encounters with norms of behaviour in schools, child rights legislation, controls on parental discipline and teenage youth culture (black and white) are unappealing and can encourage a sense of difference among Zimbabwean parents. Therefore because of these challenge leaving kids behind has become somehow an inevitable phenomenon for the diasporians.
4. Role changes and additions
The emergency of diasporas had aided to family role changes and additional within families where the grand mothers and fathers assumes the role of the parents for the remaining children and again the diasporas become the head of the families by virtue of them being financially well regardless of their age. Also diasporas had to take the financial responsibility of the whole family weighing heavily to their financial responsibilities.
5. Vulnerability to sexual abuse and molestation.
Cases of sexual abuse and molestation has become one of the main issues around children of the diasporians. This can be attributed to them lacking parental guidance and care.
How to knit the diasporians and those at home
1. Understand and respect the role of one another i.e green pastures are not always green.
2. Communicate with one another frequently
3. Not expecting too much for instance asking for money on every phone call
4. Encourage them to invest at home
5. Encourage them to have spiritual support
6. Help each other reciprocally in times of difficulties In conclusion families should maintain the relationship despite diversity.
DAY 6 TOPIC: CHILD-HEADED HOUSEHOLDS
READINGS: EXODUS 2:3-5
Child headed household is one where there is no adult carer available and children live on their own. Typically the elder child will care for the siblings. Such a situation is increasing because of the pandemic episodes of different diseases. There are various reasons which lead to child headed households.
1. It may be the only way to remain intact
2. It may be the best way to retain, use and own their parents’ estates.
3. It may be the only option available.
Child headed families may be extremely vulnerable, they need protection, support and guidance from the extended family, community and the church at large. They also need legal protection in order to receive adequate information on inheritance and property rights. They should be included in the community and its activities, programmes and projects. They should be empowered to gain control over their future. When a child take family responsibilities he or she is over worked and over-stretched psychologically and emotionally. She or he misses out on normal development, mixes with wrong age mates or age groups which may result in child marriages. A child fails to be a father or mother on crucial decisions.
Child headed houses if not well managed may end up being used for evil purposes such as vhuzu party venues or drug abuse corners. There is need for the neighbours, community and the church at large to monitor those households. If the premises were being rented the children will become destitutes.
On a positive note, child headed families have opportunities to get assistance from NGOs, Donors and even the church and community at large, they should utilise on those opportunities for the betterment of their future.
DAY 7 TOPIC: SINGLE-PARENT-HEADED FAMILIES
READINGS: PSALMS 68:5
Single-parent families are families with children under the age of 18 headed by a parent who is widowed or divorced and not remarried, or by a parent who has never married.
While God’s intention was for children to be raised by both a mother and a father, He also has compassion on the parent who is raising a child on his or her own. God’s instructions about parenting apply equally to the single and to the married (Colossians 3:21).
The first single parent identified as such in the Bible is Hagar. She was an Egyptian slave who became pregnant with Abraham’s child as a result of Abraham and Sarah running ahead of the Lord’s instruction (Genesis 16:1–4). She was to be a surrogate, which was never God’s intent. After the birth of Hagar’s child, God came to Hagar in her distress and let her know that He was with her (Genesis 16:10–12). Single parents can learn from Hagar’s experience. When she cried out to God, He drew nearer, Hagar called the Lord “the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:31). Despite how lonely single parenting may be at times, God promises to be a father to the fatherless and a defender of widows and orphans
Here are some ways you can use as a single parent:
Give your children undivided attention. Spend time with your children and make them feel loved and supported. Make sure you tell them how proud you are of them.
Encourage good behaviour. To maintain discipline in the house, set some ground rules. Make sure your children understand the value of these before they follow them. Consistent rules can help you encourage your children to behave better.
Instil a sense of responsibility. Let your children work with you as a team. Ask them to help you with chores and responsibilities around the house. This will also help them become independent.
Create time for each child. If you have more than one child, ensure that you spend alone time with each of them. Make each of them feel special and valued in whatever way you can. Stay positive. Take good care of yourself and stay positive. Keep your sense of humour to get you through the tough times. Acknowledge any negative feelings you or your children experience and work through them together.
Find a supportive community. Build a network of people you and your children can rely on for help. This can include your family and friends. You can also reach out to a support group or child care services.
Challenges of single parenting
1. Loneliness Single parents sometimes deal with the loss of a partner and the gap that was left in their life. There is no one to offer a shoulder to lean on. There is a part that your partner solely played in your life which is emotional fulfilment. It is also emotionally challenging when the other partner has to live with the kids. Coming back to an empty house drains you emotionally. The reality of all the memories of the good moments you shared with your spouse and the children dawns on you.
2. Instilling discipline in children Children may also give a solo parent an emotionally tough time such that they may find it difficult to instil discipline. Due to emotional stress, some of the children engage in truant activities as a gesture to get the attention of both the parents.
3. Low self-esteem One of the problems faced by single parents in society is bearing the brunt of harsh societal judgment. Sometimes, society judges separated spouses instead of giving them the right support at this time. Negative family members and friends give them a hard time coping with the situation, making them have self-doubt and low confidence as single parents.
4. A sense of guilt It is common for single parents to go on a guilt trip after a bitter divorce. Single parenting poses several questions in the mind of an estranged spouse. What if I could have been patient with my spouse? How will the children judge me when they grow old? How come I have lost friends after the separation? These unanswered questions of single parenting rob your innocence and only add to the difficulties of single parenting.
5. Financial burden Overbearing financial responsibilities is the most frustrating challenge for single parents.
To conclude, the most important thing for any parent to remember is that God created our children and has a plan for their lives. They were entrusted to us, regardless of our family situation, and their Creator expects us to take the responsibility to raise them in a godly manner. Single parents may find this more difficult than those with partners, but when they engage the help of their brothers and sisters in Christ, their children can thrive. Jesus had a special tenderness for children (Matthew 19:14), and single parents can rest assured that He cares for their children as much as He does for those raised in two-parent homes. When single parents model purity, honour, and honesty before their children, they are earning the respect that will help those children emulate that behaviour. Single parents can rest in the promise that God’s grace will fill in the gaps as He helps them raise their children (Psalm 27:10). Children should obey their parents regardless of their status and the community should not judge them.
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