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How to have a happy family

Why do families fail? What makes teenagers get involved in drugs,
illicit sex and other life-wrecking situations?
Here are THREE important ways to prevent such a
tragedy from occurring in YOUR home.


THE MOTHER sat looking out her front window. It was late at night and the neighborhood was quiet. There hadn't been any activity on the street for some time. Yet the mother sat straining her eyes and ears, looking and listening for the familiar sounds of her three children returning home.

As she sat, occasionally dabbing at her tear-filled eyes, she wearily reflected on the past events in her life, wondering where she had failed.

Only a few months ago her family had been complete. Then her older son — a youth in his middle teens — ran away from home. And just a few days ago, her daughter and her other son — both barely in their teens — also ran away from home.

To make things worse, they stole the family savings — several hundred dollars. Now there would not be the exciting vacation they had been looking forward to for such a long time.

Where were her children in this hostile, dog-eat-dog world? Were they safe? What would happen to them when the money was spent — or stolen?

With tears streaming down her face and sobs beginning to shake her body, she cried, "Where, oh where, have I failed?"


Another Sad-but True Story

A few states away, another father and mother were sitting in the loneliness of their home, and pondering — as they had many times before — where they had failed their children.

Their one and only son was serving a prison sentence of possibly 42 years for being an accomplice to murder and kidnapping. He could have been released in the near future for good behavior, but he keeps getting into trouble in the prison. The parents have very little money. And since the imprisoned son is many miles away, they rarely get to see him.

Their daughter married a young man who is presently in Vietnam. Prior to his induction they obtained a divorce and the daughter came back to her parents with her two little babies. And as if this weren't enough, the parents were recently stunned to hear that their daughter is now in trouble again.

Because the mother's health has deteriorated rapidly, the father is having to carry the brunt of the whole wretched mess — including the rearing of his daughter's little babies.

Just a few days ago, two officials who had been talking to the father asked, "What kind of relationship did you have with your children as they were growing up? Was there affection shown? Was there communication within the family?"

The father bitterly replied, "No, there was never anything like that. My wife and I didn't know anything about rearing children."


Thousands of Such Cases

Are these two true stories just isolated examples? Rare occurrences? Unusual circumstances?

Not at all!

People by the untold thousands are this very minute living examples such as these across the length and breadth of many lands around the globe. You personally probably know several examples like this if you stop to think about it. It is even a definite possibility that your family is such an example.

But why? What makes families fail? What goes wrong to cause tragedies like this to happen? Is there a reason?

There is a cause for every effect — a reason for every result. There are very definite reasons why some families fail and why other families are successful and happy.

This one short article presents three vitally important and basic principles which are the backbone of a stable and happy family. Here they are.


I. Give Yourself to Your Family

"Our parents never have time for us," said a teenager who was recently being interviewed on The WORLD TOMORROW broadcast. "They are always too busy doing the things they want to do."

How tragic — but how true!

Some time ago, there was a movie in which a father who was dying of cancer was trying to find out why his youngest son didn't want to inherit his vast wealth. His son was drunk most of the time, and though married to a beautiful woman who loved him, wasn't happy. The father kept probing his son with questions as he reminded him of all the gifts he had purchased for him.

Finally he struck a raw nerve and his son brokenheartedly cried out, "True, you gave me all of these things, but I don't care about them. All I ever

wanted was the one thing you didn't give me — and that is your love."

His father replied, "Why son, I've never seen you cry before, and it isn't true that I haven't loved you, for I have always loved you in my own way."

His son answered, "You owned us. You were always so interested in how to make money that you never gave us what we really wanted, and that is, of yourself."

Then the son asked his father what kind of a father he had had. His father, with a fond look of reflection on his face, said, "You know, my dad didn't leave me anything but an old traveling bag — but he always took me with him wherever he would go."

How often this story could be repeated! How many parents there are in today's affluent society who give their children everything but themselves! They simply don't take time for their children.

Some parents do see the importance of spending time with their family. But there are far too many parents in all walks of life who feel they are the exception to the rule. They feel that what they are doing is more important than spending time with their family.

But which is worse, letting your family suffer physical hardships or letting them suffer mentally, emotionally and spiritually by denying them those things which only you as a parent can give them?


Private Family Activities a Must

There are many activities in which the whole family can participate. Group activities such as picnics, swimming, hiking, and fishing can be great fun.

However, group activities should never replace private family activities. In group activities the family too often ends up in other groups and away from each other. About the only time they see each other is going to and returning from the group function.

Time spent in private with your family provides an excellent opportunity to teach them the true values of life. There is no substitute for having such family time — with the whole family involved.

A lather should rarely let a day go by without seeing and being with his family — at least for a little while.

With few exceptions, there should be a planned activity every week which involves the whole family. This will often be difficult. But if you make a way and persist, it will be one of the most gratifying experiences of your life.

Take time to be with your precious family! Make the effort to give them of yourself!


II. Communicate with Your Family

John McKee of the Dallas Crime Commission explained to a newspaper reporter this year how 14 to 16 year-old high school girls are lured into taking drugs by an underworld organization. Once hooked, the girls are forced into prostitution to financially support the habit.

Mr. McKee was asked if as a result of his work he had learned a lesson that other parents should know. Here is his surprising answer:

"Definitely, every one of the girls came from a middle to upper-income family. Usually with one or two children. They all had one thing in common: They didn't feel they could communicate with their families.

"In order to test this out, we interviewed 30 or 40 girls who had been approached by the prostitution gang in the same method I described, but who did not succumb. They escaped the trap. These girls felt they could talk to their parents and communicate with them. One, for example, said she felt free to talk to her mother about prostitution when she was 9 years old" (Dallas Morning News, April 18, 1969).

Yes, in too many homes there is simply no communication. Any number of excuses can be given, but none is really valid.