Dear Abigail

Dear Abigal

How can we be more united as a family?

Dear Abigail,

My children are at the age where they keenly feel Daddy's absence, and it seems he is gone more than he is home. My husband means well and is very dedicated in his work, but the kids miss him intensely when he is so occupied serving our church district. I am watching them grow increasingly distant from their father and his ministry because they feel neglected. How can we be more united as a family?

Worried Mother

Dear Worried,

It's easy for ministry families to become so focused on meeting the needs of others that we forget our most important mission field is the children in our own home. 

Have you and your husband discussed how your children feel? Is he aware of their growing distance from him? His dedication may possibly keep him too busy to really notice, and he may need you to gently bring it to his attention. If he's already clued in, then it is time for a family conversation. 

If your children are old enough to express their feelings, ask how they feel about Dad's level of work commitment. Explore ways they might spend time connecting with your husband one on one. Look for ministry activities you can do together as a family. Encourage him to spend one date a month with each child, doing something relaxing and enjoyable according to each child's interests, with no interruptions from work. He should put it in his calendar as an appointment so it doesn't get delayed or forgotten. 

If your husband doesn't already take one full day off per week, urge him to do so. Sabbaths are often the busiest and most harried day of the week for pastoral families. It is vital to spend at least one full day each week (outside of Sabbath) together as a family, resting, recuperating, and rejoicing in time away from the duties and pressures of ministry. 

Most of all, pray for your husband and kids. Pray God will convict your husband to spend more time focused on the children. Pray your kids' hearts will turn toward you and your husband with affection. Pray you can facilitate family discussion without forcing commitments they aren't ready to make. 

God is capable of doing amazing things, and He loves bringing families together in unity!