Karen Holford is a family counsellor, and author of 18 books on families, parenting and resources for children. She currently serves as director of Family Ministries for the Trans-European Division, based in the United Kingdom, and she talked about her work ahead of her planned visits to camp-meetings in South Australia and Northern New South Wales this month.
Why is it valuable for the church to be studying families in the new Sabbath school quarterly?
Our family relationships are vital because they shape our understanding of God and our relationship with Him. Our understanding and experience of God also shapes the way we relate to each other. More than ever, we need to be reminded of the importance of God’s love for us and our families, and learn how healthy family relationships can be a powerful witness in a world where so many relationships are broken.
What do you hope we collectively learn from this study?
I hope these lessons help us to take a fresh look at all of our relationships. As Adventists, we have focused strongly on the Law and the Prophets, but Jesus reminded us that the most important commandments are loving God and loving each other. Once we understand these two vital pillars of healthy communities, churches and families, then we have created a safe and loving place to hang our understanding of the Law and the Prophets (see Matthew 22:34–40).
What is more important for parenting—attitudes or practical strategies?
Healthy parenting starts with growing our healthy attitudes toward God, ourselves and our children. Our children are sons and daughters of God, just like us. When we see ourselves as co-parents with God, it gives us a different perspective on our responsibility as parents. Once we understand what it means to be a Christian parent, we can look for strategies in harmony with God’s love for us and our children. My “go to” places when I wonder how to parent my own children are Psalm 103, 1 Corinthians 13 and Romans 12, because they contain so much relational wisdom and many positive parenting strategies have their roots in biblical principles.
Is it difficult to parent? Why or why not?
I think parenting is the most difficult job we’ll ever do! And it’s certainly the most important job in the world, because we are helping to shape characters for eternity, and to raise children who will love God and be kind and compassionate to other people. While we are helping our children grow emotionally, spiritually, relationally and intellectually, God is also growing us in those dimensions. He uses the tough stuff of parenting to help us grow more like Him, and to enrich our understanding of Him as a loving, patient, gracious and forgiving Father.
Why is family worship so important?
Family worship is vital because it can bring the whole family together to experience God, to pray, to explore the Bible, develop positive values and nurture character strengths. But there are also other ways to nurture children’s spirituality. When parents are intentional about their own spiritual growth, when they live out their Christian values in their everyday lives, when they talk about their own spiritual journeys, and when they encourage gratitude and kindness in their children, they help them experience God and develop their own spirituality. The Holy Spirit can help us make the most of all kinds of everyday opportunities to help our children experience God’s love and the many dimensions of His character.
Why is creativity so important to your resources for families?
God is incredibly creative. Throughout history, He has used many different ways to help people grow in their understanding of Him. We can talk, think, listen, create, draw, feel, care, imagine, and use many other ways to learn about God and grow closer to Him. By providing all kinds of creative activities, I hope families will discover what works best for them and their children. And I love hearing how families have used my books to springboard their own amazing ideas.
Karen Holford’s books—including 52 Ways to Parent Happy Children and 100 Creative Worship Ideas for Busy Families—are available from Adventist bookshops around Australia and New Zealand.