Simple Home Investments with Big Returns
Here are a few ways in which investing in family life can have a transformative impact in the life of your children and society at large:
1. Be a Present Dad
Parent involvement in the life of their children is crucial to child development. Typically, the primary responsibility of caregiving falls on mothers. However, research supporting the need for higher involvement from dads is increasing. When fathers are actively involved in the upbringing of their children, noticeable increase to the cognitive development of the student is realized—especially when the father’s involvement includes educational activities. Fathers can help narrow the gap between low and high socioeconomic statuses in children. And, according to research done by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, when fathers are involved in the lives of their children, the kids are more likely to be emotionally and socially secure from early stages of development as well as the latter stages.
2. Eat Meals Together
According to the National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XII: Teens and Parents by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, nearly 85% of teens say they prefer to have dinner with their families. In essence, the simple habit of eating meals together most days a week can decrease smoking, drinking, and substance abuse by an average of 50%. When those statistics are compounded with the fact that young people who reach the age of 21 without abusing drugs are almost certainly never to do so for the rest of their lives, the investment of having family meals is critical to successful families.
3. Talk About Sex
We are living in a society that is oversaturated with sexual content. Outside of easy access to pornography (even by minors), sex and gender images monopolize advertisements, calendar holidays, and even religious institutions. The sexualization of society has not only confused gender identity among society’s most vulnerable members, it has also increased and intensified sexual crimes. Studies show that early sexual initiation have long-lasting negative consequences when it comes to sexual risk and physical and mental health. Studies show that when children are comfortable with sexual communication, they are less likely to be sexually active, more likely to be older at the time of first intercourse, and will have increased intentions to delay sex. Regardless of how uncomfortable it may seem to parents or how ill prepared they feel to have these conversations, in almost every situation, the risk of not discussing this topic is worse than addressing it with parental insecurity.
4. Family Vacations
Stressed parents are less supportive when responding to their children’s negative emotions. One of the greatest culprits of stress is work. In most cases, parents are not only stressed at work, but compound the problem by bringing work home. Now, stress is more common among young people than their parents. By spending more time at home, and—more importantly—by taking time off for vacations, parents can significantly lower the level of stress that they cause their children through the course of the work and school year. That one week of family vacation may be the best week of the year on many levels.
5. Invest Together
I was recently at the annual convention of Adventist-laymen Services and Industries in Kansas City. I was deeply struck by David Fam’s presentation on Aenon Institute, an organization that he founded and currently serves as president. He concludes the story of how he founded the Malaysia-based organization by explaining that the US dollar is worth five times more in Malaysia than in the US. I thought that this was a powerful lesson on investment that is worth discussing with our family as we plan our financial giving in the future. Supporting overseas mission work makes a lot of financial sense when considering the stronger currency of developed countries versus that of developing ones. In addition to teaching children about our debt to our brothers and sisters around the world who have yet to hear the gospel, there are many lessons that can be gained by teaching our children about investing in world mission.
Israel Ramos is the director and coordinator of Public Campus Ministry in the Michigan
Conference and Lake Union, respectively. He is a member of the University Seventh-day Adventist Church in East Lansing, home of Michigan State University, where he serves as Family Ministries Director and Youth Sabbath School Teacher with his wife Judy at their local church.
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