5 INSIGHTFUL QUESTIONS FOR THE SOUTH ASIAN FAMILY
I’ve been thinking a lot about family life lately.
Andy Stanley’s sermon series, “Future Family”, Gary Thomas’ book, Sacred Parenting, Michael Hyatt’s podcast episode about affirming your spouse, and my church’s recent family retreat has really inspired me to think more deeply about my family.
My family is in a good place, but “good is the enemy of great”. I want my family life to be great, not just good.
Therefore, I’ve taken some of my favorite parts of the above-mentioned influences and distilled them into these 5 questions with a bit of South Asian perspective. I hope you enjoy answering these questions with your family!
Question #1: What is my family’s ideal?
As South Asians, it is easy to use culture as the ideal. Culture is good, but it is not the ultimate standard. As a Christian, I believe the strongest ideal can be found in the Bible.
According to the Bible, the ideal is as follows:
- Everyone submits to one another (Eph 5)
- Wives submit to husbands (Eph 5, Col. 3)
- Husbands love your wives (Eph 5)
- Children obey your parents (Eph 6, Col 3)
- Fathers do not exasperate your children (Eph 6, Col 3)
- Love one another as I have loved you (John 13)
Unfortunately, the reality of the typical South Asian family is not near this Biblical ideal. Husbands and wives do not communicate with one another. Fights break out often. Children, parents, and extended families argue and rarely compromise.
Parents work all the time, doing double shifts, barely seeing their children or one another. Children can become disrespectful toward their parents. Fathers and mothers fear their children. Or they give up on their children. Women serve, children serve, but the Father does not serve.
Women become the spiritual centers of the home — often getting zero support from their husbands. Men treat spiritual disciplines as secondary, but make wealth and reputation primary.
South Asian families must stop and ask, “what is the ideal?” Then be honest and ask, “what is the current reality?” How can your family close the gap between real and ideal? As a Christian, how can your family get aligned with the Bible?
Question #2: What does love require me to do?
There is a greek word called “agape” which means love. It is an unconditional, sacrificial, others-centered kind of love. This kind of love is more like a verb and less like an emotion or feeling. It is essential in family life.
As parents, love develops your children. Love is more than discipline, training, etc. Love is not developing your child to be a mini-version of yourself. Love means that you will do anything it takes to develop your child into his/her God-given potential.
As children, you don’t love your parents when you disrespect them in conversation. You don’t love them when you make decisions without their input. Jesus commands His followers to love their neighbors — your parents are your closest neighbors!
I know every family is different, but love is not optional. Learn how to love one another well. I know it will be difficult in some situations, but it is important.
Question #3: What can I do to help?
In a great family, everyone helps everyone. Everyone makes everyone better. Everyone should submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph. 5:21) — ahem, not just wives.
Ok, let’s be practical. How do you submit to one another? Haha, what does this look like in the South Asian home? Let me try and take a stab at it.
- Husbands help your wives around the house
- Talk about your finances with your wife
- Open the door for your wife, give your wife the empty seat
- Speak her love language often, sacrifice time/energy for her
- Fathers be near your children after work
- Sit with them and help them with homework
- Go outside and play with your kids
- Say, I am proud of you…
- Wives speak kindly to your husband
- Don’t demean your husband in public
- Don’t try to constantly improve him
- Thank him for being a good husband and father
- Mothers stop discipling everyone all the time
- Listen when your kids have something to say
- Do things with your children, not just for them
- Hug your kids, and say, I love you
- Children talk to your parents about life
- Take out the trash, cut up the vegetables
- Vacuum the house, clean your nasty, smelly room
- Tell your Dad, that he’s a great friend and provider
- Tell your Mom, that she’s beautiful and hardworking
Being submissive and helpful does not make you a weak person. Being submissive does not mean you abdicate authority. The unbelievable impact is that your family becomes strong when it is submissive and helpful to one another.
Question #4: Who needs to hear me say, “I’m sorry?”
There is SO much drama in South Asian families. No one wins when you hold a grudge against a family member. No one wins! Even if you prove your point, there is still hurt and damage to be repaired. Who have you wronged? Who has wronged you? Go, start the reconciliation process.
Reconcile quickly. Don’t allow hurt or irritation linger between you and other family members. Irritation turns into anger. Anger turns into hatred. Hatred turns into apathy. And apathy toward family members is a terrible thing.
Be honest with one another. Be humble when speaking to each other. Listen to what is being said. Do not become proud and use their apology against them. Be prayerful — there is a spiritual and relational dynamic at play when we reconcile! Go, take time today to say, “I’m sorry”.
Question #5: Am I happy?
Actually, I tricked you. The final question is NOT a question that you get to ask. But society tells you that this is the MOST important question. It is not. God did not design families to make you happy, but to make you holy.
But interestingly enough, a by-product of holiness is lasting joy. Joy does not depend on your circumstances. Joy does not ebb and flow. Joy comes from your relationship with Jesus. Joy makes family life awesome.
Don’t chase happiness. Don’t settle for “Am I happy?” — but dig deeper. Reconcile with one another, submit to one another, love each other unconditionally, and reach for the ideal… together. This leads to deep joy.