By Leslie Diestelkamp
The Family Room
That room in a considerable percentage of new houses that has been designated “The Family Room” is of relatively recent origin. At least it has come to a maximum of popularity in the last two or three decades. Sometimes it is furnished much more comfortably and realistically than other rooms, and it is designed as a place of maximum relaxation and as a facility for ideal family association.
Under these relatively ideal circumstances there is certainly opportunity for a joyful and a rewarding togetherness of husbands and wives and of parents and children. The deep, soft carpets, the various comfort chairs, the clean paneled walls, suitable pictures on the walls-all of these plus other various facilities-produce a circumstance and an atmosphere that is altogether conducive to pleasant, happy days and nights of family circle events.
Face The Facts
But let us take an inventory. What has happened to the average family since the advent of the popular family room? Indeed, it has been a one-way street, a constant deteriorating process, a seemingly irreversible trend away from a close family association. Why should this be true? With much better facilities and with much greater opportunities, why has the family so frequently fallen apart? Why is there now so much more alienation of husbands and wives and of parents and children? Perhaps it may be well to consider some reasons for such failures:
I. In many households, the family room may have become a substitute for a family circle. In other words, men may have built family rooms to substitute for the care and concern, the devotion and dedication, the love and loyalty that they really owe their families. It may have seemed easier to provide facilities than to supply family leadership. But we need to remember that all the facilities we may buy with money, even indoor swimming pools, game rooms, etc., will never take the place of love and affection nor will such facilities replace direction and discipline.
2. The family room can sometimes provide the setting for togetherness physically but complete separation emotionally, mentally and spiritually. This is what I mean: we may sit in the same room for hours, almost unaware of each other while our attention is glued to a television program. And we may be naive enough to believe we are providing a situation of “togetherness.” Indeed, we may all be able to recite the names of all the actors on the Hollywood stages, while at the same time we may barely know the nature, the desire, the longing of each other!
3. We may become involved in a family room lifestyle that defeats the very intended purpose of that facility. When T.V. dinners are eaten on T.V. trays so that no one will miss “the show,” then we have missed the greater opportunity for significant togetherness when we should have all sat around the same dining table at the same time. When junior refuses to come to the table because he will not leave the T.V. and when family “communication” (conversation) is sacrificed at the altar of entertainment, then the family room is a curse, not a blessing as it should have been.
In these affluent times when money is so plentiful, it may usually be easier to provide “things” for our family than to supply association among ourselves. And this may be the real cause of the un-doing of the family structure that is so vital to happiness and success. This inclination to pay the price in money instead of in attention and care has been exploited by the toy industry, so much so that many families spend hundreds of dollars annually for those super-duper toys that are intended to entertain the children and spare the parents that responsibility.
So, some may ask, “What can we do together?” Well, if your children are already addicted to the expensive toys and if they are already caught up in the permissive self-sufficiency that rebels against parental guidance, it may be exceedingly difficult to do anything that will salvage the family circle. But if you still have time-if your children are small or still unspoiled by the affluence of our times, there are many things you can do to promote a happy, healthy family relationship.
Go together! Go hiking or cycling together. Go picnicking together. Go camping together. Go, together, to any decent kinds of recreation and entertainment. Find a private place and go swimming together. Work together, play together, read together, and especially worship together. And remember, every one of these items and dozens of others can provide a real base for closeness and communication, a real foundation for like-mindedness and mutual joyfulness.
But also, stay home together. Make your home a sanctuary! Let your house be a haven for the whole family-a place of refuge from the ugly and vile things of the world outside, a place of security from the violent and turbulent affairs even nearby. Let it be a shelter from the storms of life. Most of all, let the home be a place of release from tensions, a quiet resort, a jubilant group-action of people mutually devoted to the same ideals and to each other.
The family circumstance that I have tried to portray can be a happy, secure, serene association even while living in a shack by the side of the road, in a humble cottage or crowded apartment. If attitudes are right, the house and its facilities make little difference. If attitudes are wrong, all the facilities in the world will not make a happy, successful family circle. If your family room consists of the kitchen, the living room or the front porch, or if it is indeed a luxurious special room, you can make it a source of satisfaction for the family and of approval by God. Do it today, for the sake of all those souls involved at your house!
Truth Magazine XXII: 38, pp. 618-619
September 28, 1978