Aug 162018 4 Responses

The Greatest Problem with Modern Family

There is no question that brokenness is a major problem with the modern family. The family structure has a specific design. There is a synergy as a collection of people play differing roles nourishing one another and contributing to a bigger purpose than just their own individual desires. A husband and wife are created differently. Kids bring energy, excitement, and expectation. Grandparents draw life from grandchildren while instilling wisdom in the generations below them. Aunts, uncles, and cousins make unique contributions to one another.

When these relationships are broken or roles are missing, there is a cost. Wounds are created when a daughter doesn’t know her dad. Emotional foundations aren’t as strong when grandparents are missing or aunts and uncles keep their distance. Even as adults we still need the validation from our parents, and when death takes them, part of us dies as well.

The emotional, mental, and physical effects of broken families cannot be overstated. As people choose to forgo marriage to have children, make selfish choices to hinder strong family relationships, or as life creates circumstances where families can’t be together, a toll is taken on all involved. We see the plight all around us: anxiety in children; loneliness in seniors; violence among young adults. Society pays a heavy price because of broken families.

Yet brokenness is not the greatest threat to the modern family. It’s a substantial problem which should be addressed, but for many families there is another danger.

The greatest threat to the modern family is fear. (See: Fear Leads Me Too Often)

The Gift of Fear

The feeling of fear is a blessing. It protects us. When a danger is clear and present, fear saves our lives. We are supposed to be afraid of the wild bear confronted on the hiking trail or the armed robber at the convenience store.

FDR might have said, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” but he was wrong. We have many things we should rightly fear. We ignore fear at our own peril.

The great gift of fear is that it changes action. It keeps us from walking down a dangerous path or into a robbery. It empowers us to choose a better action for our safety and well-being.

The Defect of Fear

While fear is normally a gift, it can also be a curse. Fear is useful when a likely threat is present. It changes our action to lead to our safety. Yet many of our fears are not rightful responses to real situations. They are paralyzing feelings toward rare possibilities.

A child can’t sleep because they are afraid of clowns in the closet. Parents know the child is safe, but the parents’ knowledge doesn’t change the child’s belief or actions. Instead, the parents’ actions are often dictated by the fear of the child.

The old routine between parent and child about monsters under the bed or clowns in the closet has become the metaphor for the modern family. Fear has paralyzed us. And many families are led by the most fearful member. (See: I Know Who Is In Charge of Your Family)

Family as Fear’s Antidote

We live in a culture of fear. There’s not much we can do about that, but fear was never supposed to be the centerpiece of family. Instead, the family was meant to be fear’s antidote. The love, support, and emotional connection with a healthy family was meant to empower us with courage. A child can begin to explore their world because they know their parents are watching them. A husband and wife can have the difficult conversation because they have promised to love one another for better or worse. Aging parents can face the uncertainty of death because they have created a legacy of love.

Family drives us. While misplaced fears can paralyze us, love for family should motivate us. A healthy family creates such a solid foundation upon which we build our lives that it more defines our lives than any potential danger which we might face.

Yet too often, instead of family killing fear, fear kills family. It prevents us from having the hard conversations. It immobilizes us from taking the brave actions. We are distracted by negative possibilities and fail to engage the actions, attitudes, or behaviors which would lead to a compelling life.

We are first ruled by fear and then second ruined by it.

The Home of the Brave

Our need is to recognize and admit the presence of fear in our lives. Then we must choose a different way. Our homes need to become centers for courage. We must prioritize bravery as a primary goal in marriage, parenting, and every element of home life. More than safety, we must value strength. While we should never foolishly place ourselves in danger, we cannot turn safety into a god. I can’t keep my kids safe at all times, but I can assist them in becoming strong so that they can face many challenges. My marriage can’t always be safe, but we can develop the emotional muscle which allows us to endure whatever life throws at us. I can’t walk through life without pain, but I can increase my pain tolerance.

Bravery should be a family’s goal. Not our only pursuit, but an important one. Recognizing the dominating presence of fear in life and its often devastating effects on us, modern families should see bravery as a vital tool for success.


  • How would your family be different if it wasn’t ruled by fear?
  • How would valuing bravery change your parenting style?
  • What role does courage play in a good marriage?
  • Why is emotional strength a better goal than physical safety?

The modern family is under attack. Fear is wreaking too much havoc in our daily lives. While some fear is good, many of our fears are unnecessary. We need a different way and the family is uniquely positioned to assist us toward a better path. Through the commitment of love and diversity of roles, a family truly can create the home of the brave.

4 Responses to The Greatest Problem with Modern Family

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