4 Elements of Healthy Family Relationships

4 Elements of Healthy Family Relationships

Estrangement appears to be on the rise.

Increasing numbers of parents, children, and siblings are cutting off or putting restrictive "boundaries" on their relationships.(1) 

This used to be caused by serious problems like abuse. But as our culture grows increasingly narcissistic, people are beginning to sever relationships for petty, selfish, hypocritical reasons.

Even in Christian circles, people are more critical and less willing to consider the desires of family members.

Healthy relationships require:

1. Seeing things from the other person’s perspective (Matthew 7:1-4).

2. Placing value on the desires of others (Philippians 2:3-4).

3. Willingly working through problems even when it takes time and effort (Matthew 5:23-24).

4. Repentance and forgiveness.(2) 

Christians can’t honor the Lord while refusing reconciliation with others:

"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift." Matthew 5:23-24
(1) An area that is especially prevalent is adult children neglecting, rejecting, marginalizing, and hypocritically judging their parents. This is accepted and promoted in our culture, but it will result in loss of well-being for the adult child and his/her family (Ephesians 6:2-3). God does not expect adult children to obey their parents, but He does expect them to listen to their parents and treat them with high regard. Their parents may not "deserve" honor, but God's commands do. If you are struggling with your attitude toward your parents, I encourage you to read the 1-minute devotions in the archive Honoring Parents. Do it for the Lord.

(2) It's important that we repent even if we are not completely responsible for problems -- even if we are only 10% responsible. And we should repent whether the other person repents or not. Full reconciliation requires that both parties repent of any wrong, but we should do what's right even if the other person refuses, even if reconciliation cannot be reached. We don't repent of things we haven't done wrong, but neither do we excuse our sins based on the sins of the other person. We repent because God tells us to do it. See 4 Things That Happen When We Fail to Repent and I Doubt They Genuinely Repented.

4 Elements of Healthy Family Relationships


  1. After years of psychological abuse by a narcissist mother, i have distanced myself. I do not believe God wants his children continually abused.

    1. Hi Shan,

      God wants His children to grow, mature, and deny themselves, and sometimes He uses difficult people in our lives to refine us.

      And God commands us to honor our parents.

      That goes beyond simple respect, and it requires contact and consideration, not distance. He tells us to honor them, not because they deserve it but because He deserves it.

      I know a great many people, even those who have been physically abused by their parents, who are able to honor them in safe ways.

      And I know of people who have honored narcissistic or difficult parents and ended up realizing that one reason their parents behaved as they did was because they had never genuinely honored them.

      If you study the lives of God's men and women in Scripture, you will find that many - perhaps most of them dealt with narcisistic, ungodly people and did so with respect and honor. Joseph with his ungodly brothers (Genesis 50:20), David with ungodly King Saul (1 Samuel 24), Ruth with a mother-in-law who was bitter and took her for granted, etc.

      I don't see God's goal as keeping us comfortable or surrounding us with wonderful family.

      Faith isn't the easy way. It's the hard way but we do it in God's strength, not our own.

      If I were to advise you from my human understanding, I would tell you to have nothing to do with your mother. But God's wisdom is different. He cares about our spiritual growth, not just the ease of our lives.

      I am speaking to you from my experiences and the experiences of others I know personally. There are many difficult parents and in laws in this world. We can't change who they are, but we can change who we are.

      And I believe that is why God attaches a promise to his command to honor our parents.

      You may think that your well-being is best served by distancing yourself from your mother, but God says your well-being is best served by honoring her.

      “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
      Ephesians 6:2

      I pray you will at least consider these things and try to think of at least one things you might do this week that would honor your mother....and do it for the Lord.

      God bless you.


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