Friday, August 17, 2012

Why Do We Focus on Special Needs Families?

I ran into Dave Workman today and had a nice catch up conversation. Dave is Pastor of the Vineyard Community Church, the Mother Ship of all the Vineyards in our region. He and Steve Sjogren were the two who planted the Vineyard here many years ago.

The Vineyard Mother Ship Church has planted about 30 additional congregations around Greater Cincinnati making them the most generous and most influential congregation in this town with the most generous leaders. I wish I had a million Dollars to give them so they can keep up the great work. I hope the 30 churches they have planted with send a tithe to them monthly to allow them to give it away as generously as they have given for decades. (Don't tell Dave I said this. he would be embarrassed.)

Dave asked us if our focus on families with a disability was a new thrust for Sweeten Life. Good question. We have always had a major focus on helping families develop a healthy life. Fro the biblical and psychological perspective, the family is the foundation of all spiritual, relational and emotional health or sickness.

The family is the key to educational and economic health. teachers cannot do squat if the family is dysfunctional or anti educational. (Do you know the one most important correlation to family life and well educated kids? (Read to the last and I will tell you.)

When I was a teacher, the parents were committed to support me and the school to educate and discipline  their children. If a kid was in trouble with me they were disciplined at home.  I was not expected to give to the kids the motivation or discipline. They got that at home and I built on it.

What about today? The teachers and schools are blamed for the kids having no discipline or respect. Parents send spoiled, hyperactive kids to school and then complain if the teacher tries to corral them.

We have always tried to train parents how to rear children and counsel, heal and correct a family with a disabled, sick or problem child. I did my Post Doctoral work in Family of Origin Therapy. The focus is on helping generations of families get together and get functional. As I CO 12 says, "when one member of the body hurts everyone is in pain..." Research on family life proves that saying to be true and when a family has generations of dysfunction  the children cannot be fully functional.

The emphasis on disabled children came about when The Hatton Foundation gave us a very generous grant to study the needs of families with young children with a severe disability.  Here is the fact about family life from generation to generation.

A family is like a stream of water that flows downstream to mix with other steams until a larger stream is formed and then a river. The large stream is like a church or community and the river is called society. Every few yard a rock or limb will fall into the stream causing an impediment and the water to be roiled and bubble.

This is what happens to a family when death, disease and accidents of divorces enter the stream. Emotions are roiled, stresses occur and the free flow of water is disturbed. These nodal events in the life of a family can make the family stronger of weaker. Some families rise to the challenge and develop strategies that bring the talents, gifts and strengths of the people out. In other groups, an event that disturbs the flow of the family results in hurt, anger, bitterness, hopelessness, blame and divorce.

A wise family will seek out a wise guide to pray, offer insight and support. That is what a Family Counselor or Pastor is for. We cannot keep rocks or limbs from falling into the stream but we might be able to assist the family in facing the currents and standing against them so they are not overwhelmed.

Stay tuned for the soon release of some fantastic new materials designed to help guide roiled family systems get through the rapids safely.

(The number of books in a family home.)

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