A. Communication is an important and necessary part of our lives.
1. By communication in this outline we mean the interpersonal activity of passing information, exchanging ideas, expressing thoughts and feelings through speech, i.e. by talking.
2. All human relationships in their various spheres depend on this activity. Relationships in the workplace, in government, in the church, and in the school are built around the ability to communicate.
3. This is also true in the family. The Christian home is and must be a place where communication flows freely between parents and children, and between children and children. The covenant family depends on this.
B. Many if not most of the problems that arise in the Christian family stem from a lack of or a weakness in communication.
1. This is true of husbands and wives. It is also true of parents and children, especially teenagers. Are you able to cite examples from your own experience?
2. For this reason it is important for you to discuss this topic. (As you can tell by now, the focus of this outline is on communication between parents and their YP, not between you YP and your brothers and sisters. If you want to include that aspect, and have time, you certainly may).
II. THE FOUNDATION
A. COMMUNICATION IS ROOTED IN GOD’S COVENANT OF GRACE WITH US.
1. God is the God Who communicates to us in His covenant.
a. God has revealed Himself to us as our Friend, and He has made us His friends and taken us into His fellowship.
b. And in this relationship there is communication between us. Friends talk, and that is what takes place between God and us, cf. Ps. 25:24; Gen. 18:17ff.
2. This covenantal communication is two-sided.
a. God has spoken and continues to speak to us.
(1) What does He say to us? How and by what means does He communicate to us? What must be our attitude in receiving this speech?
(2) You may find your own biblical references.
b. And we in turn talk to Him.
(1) What do we say to God, and how is our speech to Him related to what He says to us? How and by what means do we communicate with God? What is to be our attitude in talking to God?
(2) Again, you may look up your own Bible passages here.
B. THE COVENANT FAMILY IS A REFLECTION OF THIS COVENANT.
1. Our family life, our relationships in the home are and must be patterned after God’s covenant with us. What does that mean practically?
a. First, that we understand that our relationship with our parents is one of friendship.
(1) They are our friends in Christ and we are their friends in Christ.
(2) Is that the way you view your parents? What does that say to the so-called “generation-gap”?
b. Second, that in this relationship of friendship there must be communication between us.
(1) Friends talk! They open up to each other! They share!
(2) You do that with your friends outside the family. So it must be within the family between you and your parents.
2. That communication is two-sided—just as in God’s covenant with us.
a. On the one hand, our parents speak to us.
(1) In what ways do they do this?
(2) What must parents communicate to you as YP? In terms of instruction and discipline? In terms of wise counsel and advice?
(3) What must be your attitude in receiving their speech? Do you listen to them?
b. And on the other hand, you speak to your parents.
(1) How much do we talk to our parents? Is there openness between us? Do we feel free to speak to them?
(2) How does our conversation differ from theirs? What should you be talking about with your parents; what should you communicate to them? Is our conversation merely on the level of the natural, or does it often rise to the level of the spiritual? In other words, are you able to talk about spiritual things with your parents?
(3) How much do you tell them about yourself and your needs, about your problems and struggles? How much should you?
III. THE EXPRESSION
A. IF THERE IS GOOD COMMUNICATION IN OUR HOMES, THIS OUGHT TO BE EXPRESSED CONCRETELY. CONSIDER THIS EXPRESSION FROM THESE VIEWPOINTS.
1. First, with regard to the “when” of good communication:
a. Should there be set times for us to talk in the home?
(1) Discuss what times in your family life would be good for speaking to one another—at the supper table, before bedtime, etc.
(2) Are there disadvantages in having such set times? Should parents be ready and willing to talk with us anytime?
b. How often should there be times of free communication between you and your parents?
(1) Daily? Twice a week? Twice a month?
(2) How often do you sit down and really talk with your father or mother, or both?
2. Second, with regard to the “how” of good communication:
a. Perhaps the chief mark of our communication must be truthfulness, cf. Eph. 4:15,25. The book of Proverbs repeatedly stresses this. Look up some verses for proof.
(1) Discuss why this is so necessary for good communication in the home. What does it contribute to (trust, etc.)? Why does its opposite (lying, dishonesty)destroy good communication?
(2) What effect does this mark have on what we talk about with our parents and how much we tell them about certain things that we struggle with or are tempted by or have heard concerning other YP?
b. Further, good communication must also be characterized by and expressed in proper attitudes.
(1) There must be respect on your part for your parents. How do you express that? What does this have to say about the way we receive their talk to us and the way we talk to them?
(2) There must also be love. How is Christian love going to determine the way in which you express good communication with your parents?
B. IN THIS CONNECTION WE MAY ALSO CONSIDER SOME PROBLEMS OR SINS WHICH HINDER GOOD FAMILY COMMUNICATION.
1. On the part of parents:
a. Some of the problems and sins I see (in myself too) are (you may discuss the reality of these in your situation):
(1) They don’t take the time to listen to YP and their needs.
(2) If they do listen to us, they don’t take us seriously and they make light of our struggles.
(3) They don’t offer us good counsel and wisdom. YP need more than just a shoulder to cry on; they need help.
b. Are there others that you are aware of and maybe have witnessed firsthand?
c. What must be your response to the sins and weaknesses that you see in your parents with regard to your communication with them?
(1) Are you able to go to them and talk to them about these things, too?
(2) Do you pray for parents—for forgiveness for them and for grace to be given them so that they may be able to communicate with you?
2. On the part of YP:
a. You too can and often do fail to express good communication with your parents. Some of your sins and weaknesses might be:
(1) A failure to open up to your parents. What might be some of the causes of this (anger, jealousy, lack of trust)?
(2) Responding to your parents’ talk with an unsubmissive or indifferent attitude. What should be done about this?
b. What other ones are manifest in your life? What other sins work against good communication?
IV. THE BLESSINGS
A. THERE ARE MANY BENEFITS TO BE GAINED FROM GOOD FAMILY COMMUNICATION.
1. Some of these are:
a. The development of a better relationship with our parents.
(1) Being able to talk openly to one another serves to make the bond between us tighter and stronger.
(2) How is that of particular help to you in the adolescent years? Do you think you need that strong relationship during these years?
b. Communication brings happiness to the Christian home.
(1) In this kind of an atmosphere we experience joy and peace.
(2) All of you want a happy home life, don’t you?
c. A greater respect for parents on your part.
(1) If our parents are open to us, and we are able to talk freely with them, we gain respect for them.
(2) Some would say that if we get too close to our parents through open communication, respect is lost. Do you agree with that? Why or why not? Is there a danger here?
d. The ability to confront and handle differences and difficulties better.
(1) Can you see why this blessing follows?
(2) Do you consider this important?
2. Can you name some more benefits of good communication in the family?
B. A CLOSING WORD
1. How strongly do we desire these blessings?
a. Do you want a good relationship with your parents? Do you want to experience good communication? Are you committed to these things?
b. I trust that as Christian YP you do want this and do have this commitment. Am I right in that?
2. Good family communication is hard work and requires much effort on our part.
a. What should we be doing as we strive for good communication? On Whom should we be depending for help and grace? For whom should we be praying?
b. Do this—and enjoy the blessings of good family communication!