The traditional family with traditional family values may be declining in America, but it is far from extinct. In some areas around the country, such as in Bradley County, the traditional family is not dying, but thriving. Families who support these values that became the cornerstone of many civilizations are working hard to maintain those standards in a world that views many cherished traditions as outdated and no longer the norm.
While the 21st century child-rearing family can take various forms, one husband and wife, Frank and Kadene Hinkson, agreed to share their secrets for preserving traditional family values and how they are succeeding in raising their three children; Allanah, 6, Isaiah, 5, and Micah, 3, with the same principles that have guided them through life.
Married 12 years, the Jamaican-born couple first met in a Florida church in 1995 when Kadene was a bright, confident teenager. The two fell in love in 1999. Frank proposed in 2000 and they married in 2001. The couple moved to Cleveland in 2004 where Kadene obtained her undergraduate degree in theology and biblical studies at Lee University. Both husband and wife are pastors at God’s Lighthouse Tabernacle International Ministries in Cleveland.
When asked about how they approach child rearing, Kadene responded, “We try to do a biblical world view altogether. As Proverbs 22:6 says, we try to train up a child in the way that they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it. The biblical world view is to say you have a mommy and you have a daddy. When you (Allanah) are older you become like Mommy. The boys become a daddy. We give them that perspective. We tell them the way in which kids are born. Mommy and Daddy in the confines of marriage — it’s a special process — in which children come about. We give them that general view, allowing them to embrace who they are. Because of their age we are not able to go into deeper things, but we pray to God to help us know when it is time to go further with that.”
As for whether or not they should allow their children to decide their own sexual orientation, both said it goes back to training up a child “in the way they should go” as directed in the Bible. They also reiterated that these are their own family values and what has worked for them.
“As parents, our children are under our cover, our guidance, and we are called on to lead them, guide them and tell them this is what the Word says,” Kadene responded. “God created male and female — allowing them to know that if the Word says this is how God created them, we should follow that as the right way. Because we’re doing the job that we’re doing now, they are going to know ‘I am fully a man and I am fully a woman.’ This gives them a framework that when they grow up she’s going to be like Mommy and he’s going to be like Daddy. In the end I believe they will not depart from that as the Bible says.”
A recent report on New ‘Non-Traditional’ American Families by ABC News quoted Alexis Walker, the editor of the National Council on Family Relations’ Journal of Marriage and the Family, as saying, “Most people still believe in the two-biological-married-parents-with-kids model. Family is both a belief and a practice.”
By instilling this belief in their children and allowing them to see how it is practiced, Kadene and Frank said they feel confident that their children will make the right choices when they get older. The couple said this also calls for open and honest communication, using the oldest, most revered, best-selling book of all time — The Holy Bible.
“We tell our kids everything you need is in the Bible,” Kadene said. “When it comes to what defines a friend, money, who you are as a person — anything — we say, ‘Let’s see what the Word says about it.’ As we talk about our values and principles with them we always give them an example afterwards. When I was growing up in Jamaica, my parents always gave us a voice. We had family devotion, as we do now.
“We sit at the dinner table and ask, ‘How was school today? What did you do today? Is there anything you want to talk about? What is on your mind?’ And we allow them to have the freedom to come to Mommy and Daddy, knowing we are going to hear them out. We also use affirmations instead of acting alarmed. We’re able to say, ‘That’s a great question. I’m happy that you asked! Now let’s go ahead and answer that question so you can understand it.”
Frank agreed, adding, “The dinner table is essential. It’s very, very important that families get together at least once a week, if not more, to discuss anything that has happened in school, at church, on the playground — wherever — and allow them to express themselves. We need to be more involved in their world. We want to be the ones that they come to and not their friends. Oftentimes, when parents are not in their children’s lives enough, they’ll get their advice from their friends, television and from society.”
According to the Hinksons, there is a need to monitor the cartoons and other children’s TV programming, due to unwholesome and corruptive influences that could minimize certain dangers mentioned in the Bible.
“They like to watch cartoons, but there are certain cartoons that we don’t let them watch,” Frank explained. “I grew up watching certain kids shows. Even though they are innocent for the most part, even on those shows they would have a witch on there, and those are a ‘no-no’ for us. We can’t even let them watch kids shows on TV without having to check them out.”
With reports describing children as young as 5, 6 and 7 years of age displaying sexual behaviors in school, the Hinksons said they take a proactive approach according to the need and circumstances, without raising unnecessary concerns. Kadene gave an example of an occasion when her daughter had noticed some children her own age speaking about being “boyfriend and girlfriend.”
“I asked her, ‘What does that mean to you?’ because I want to hear what she’s thinking,” Kadene said. “She said, ‘Oh, they’re just friends — he’s a boy. She’s a girl.’ I said, ‘What do they do?’ She said, ‘They hold hands.’ I said, ‘Well, it’s good to have friends. This is what a friend entails: At this stage, a friend should not touch you on certain parts of your body. No one should walk over you. That’s not what friends do. Friends respect your space and the way they talk with you. They don’t go off in corners to do something that is not right. Whatever you’re doing, if you have to hide it, then it’s not good.’”
Frank added, “Every child is different and their environment is different. Those are the things that may dictate whether it’s time to discuss certain matters with your children. You can’t catch it all. So you have to look for those key moments. It’s good to be prepared ahead of time. You should know the path that you’re leading a person. Once they’re at an age to understand, you can go into more detail.”
When it comes to handling race relations, Kadene said, “We don’t want our children to see black and white from a superior/inferior perspective. When they see people of different skin shades they see the ‘peach’ person and the ‘brown’ person. We try to stay away from issues of race. We weren’t raised in a black and white way. We teach them to show respect to others no matter if they are the highest or lowest.”
Frank said, “That is one of the reasons why I love it here in Cleveland, Tennessee, because this is a great place to raise a family. We were in Fort Lauderdale (Fla.). That’s a much bigger city and the pace was very different. Driving a school bus there and driving a school bus here — I see what the schools are like. It is a lot milder and more family-oriented here. We have that to our advantage.”
Although the decline of traditional family values does not mean families are less valued, it has, nonetheless, raised concerns among many God-fearing families about whose values are being instilled in children today and whether those values have a proven record of success over many centuries.
“Everything today seems to be more about feelings — what ‘feels’ best and what I ‘like’ best,” Frank said. “We are in a society that says, ‘If it feels right, do it!’ That is very dangerous. Unfortunately, as we talk about values and marriage, it may go into — ‘If you like your brother or sister.’ Before you know it, people are going to be marrying their pets! Some laugh, but 50 years from now when a man and his camel are up there taking vows — bestiality — just because you feel something doesn’t make it right.”
Ironically, there is already a “marry your pet” website as well as documented cases online of men and women around the world “getting married” to their cat, dog, dolphin, cow, goat and snake — all since 2003.
“When you don’t have a center, a core, then anything goes,” Kadene said. “We have to get back to the basics — back to the core value. If we’re able to go back and remember our Creator, then it’s going to bring things back to normal. If we’re going to do what is ‘right’ in our own eyes, we’re susceptible to anything.”
Frank agreed, adding, “It’s OK that as your children gets older they need to become more independent. What we have to do is make sure that we train them in the right way now, so that when they get older and go on their own they will make the right decisions.”
Kadene said, “We tell our children, ‘You’re smart. You’re intelligent. You’re a Christian. No matter how people treat you, you stick to your values. Stick to what we’ve taught you. We’ve done it. Our parents trained us this way and it has worked out great for us. Now our parents are proud of us. It worked for us and it will work for you.’”
Experts say teaching kids to be responsible at every stage of their lives takes several years. Parents are encouraged to start early, be good examples, be patient, stay positive and to be a parent over being a friend.