On the Centrality of Parent/Child Relationships

In Family Therapy this spring, our “opening reflections” are theological perspectives on the family drawn from On Being Family: A Social Theology of Family by Ray Anderson and Dennis Guernsey. The following reflection addresses the issue of parent-child relationships being central or fundamental to family:

The concept of family derives from the concept of parenting and is dependent upon it for its significance in regard to the development of persons…. The family as a collective unit is not the center of focus in the Bible. Rather, the relation of parents and children is central, and it is upon this relation that both the command and the promise rest. In focusing upon the parent/child relation, we are not disregarding the other significant relations that a child experiences; namely, sibling relationships and relationships with other members of the extended family, such as grandparents, aunts and uncles. These other relationships are subsumed under the category of parent/child and are basically ancillary, although by necessity they also may become surrogate. (p. 61)

For reflection: Do you agree with the assertion that the “relation between parents and children” is the more central focus of Scripture than “the family as a collective unit”? If so, what are the implications of this assertion?

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