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Work must not destroy family

Thursday, 8 January 2015: Rebecca said to me today, “Pastor, I wish my husband’s employers would give him some free time to spend with us as a family. He has no free weekends and no free evenings. He only returns home to sleep. This can’t be right!”
Rebecca went on to say, “I sometimes feel as if I am a single parent because my husband is never with me to talk with the children or to help with their homework. Pray for us. We have reached a point where we have agreed that my husband looks for another job.”
It is not only Rebecca who is making this complaint. I have heard it from a growing number of wives—and husbands too! It looks like employers are no longer mindful of the demands of raising a family. They want their employees to work ceaselessly for them.
I guess one reason for this is that in this very competitive business world employers want to reduce their wage bill while maintaining or even increasing productivity. This means that the few employees they retain must work extra hours. The result is disastrous.
It seems to be cheaper to make one person work twelve hours a day for seven days a week than to employ two individuals to work eight hours a day for five days a week. The result is that people are being made to work as if they are machines. That is wrong.
Often, to begin with, couples do not mind this because the overtime pay enables them to do a little more for themselves financially. They are able to take children to better schools and buy a few household gadgets that they once only envied from afar.
However, with time the frustrations outweigh the benefits. The individual who is alone at home everyday of the week right into the night begins to feel miserably lonely. A flatbed television is a very poor substitute for a real human being—even if you add DSTV.
The demands of child upbringing also need the input of both daddy and mommy. Maids and live-in relatives are a very poor substitute for daddy and mommy. They can help here and there, but an absentee daddy or an absentee mommy cannot be totally substituted.
Children must not only be fed and clothed. They must also be taught and discipled. This is where a parent’s active presence at home is vital. This must start when the children are very young and must go on until they leave home. Working late makes this impossible.
Some parents think that they will start teaching when the children are older. Sadly, that is like taking a teenager into pre-school to learn the basics of grammar. It is too late! There are certain foundational truths that can only be taught when children are very young.
Other parents tend to leave moral and spiritual education to Sunday School at church. Again that is wrong. Sunday School teachers are simply meant to supplement what parents are teaching at home. Parents must give top priority to moral and spiritual education.
Failure by parents to handle this makes many of them regret in later life. They lose their children in their teenage and young adulthood years because, lacking moral values, these teenagers and young adults get involved in all kinds of vices that cost them their lives.
Nothing is more painful in life than living in an affluent house in an exclusive neighbourhood with expensive cars and classy household furnishings and appliances, which you know were acquired at the expense of the souls of your children. It is really painful.
Each time you look at the photos of the children who perished while you were chasing this world’s goods, your conscience tells you that if only you had spent quality time with them in their early years perhaps they would still be alive and leading fruitful lives.
In the light of all this, employers need to put boundaries on their quest for profits. It must not be done at the expense of family life. Similarly, married men and women should not allow themselves to be used until their family lives are destroyed. They must say, “Enough!”
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