* A reader & friend requested I share my tips on this topic. While we still have lots of room to grow in this area ourselves, I will share what has worked well so far for us: a (current) family of 5 with 3 kids under 6.
How many times have you wished babies/kids came with an instruction manual or embedded GPS devices to track their movement and show where to go next?! Wouldn’t that be nice! Sadly, that is NOT the case and getting a driver’s license comes with far more (mandatory) instruction than parenting a child ever has. Crazy to think about!! Picking up our latest foster love from NICU 5 months ago only required that I view a short video on CPR and “Safe Sleep” (back is BEST) and pass a “test” of securing her scrawny < 5 pound body safely into a carseat… then out the hospital unit doors we went and the rest was in my hands (literally). Her health, growth, physical, mental, and spiritual development … all up to me, her (foster) parent. Parenting is an important calling!
If you ask me, the physical needs of a child are easiest… it’s the emotional and spiritual growth I find to be the most stressful and exhausting. After all, I want my kids to grow up strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9) because of their childhood, not despite it!
In my life, the most influential contributor to my OVERALL health & wellbeing has been my faith. So this is something I TRY to keep prioritized daily in the lives of my kids too. Just as we need bread (i.e. food) for physical nourishment, we need Jesus (“The Bread of Life”) for sustained FULLNESS of life. Sure, our kids can survive off bagels and PopTarts but to be truly satisfied and FED, they need faith in Jesus.
So how do we feed them spiritually on a daily basis ???
#1. Model. No, not like losing 50 lbs, putting hours into sculpting and toning, and putting on a swimsuit for a competition. More like opening your bible, praying, and serving others in your sweat(s). We model to our children what matters. What matters to us, often matters to them. They look up to us and model our behaviors. Have you ever heard YOURSELF come out of the mouth of your 3 year old (?! scary ?!) ? They are listening and watching. So allow yourself time to focus on your own faith – tell them Mommy is having quiet time and even invite them to join you if they’d like. Tell them what you are reading about… and why… what you are praying about/for… and why you trust God to answer in His timing/way.
#2. Read. The library is our favorite place! They probably hate me/us because I put about 50 books on hold and bring in 3 noisy kids to pick them up… but we LOVE them. What a great free resource we all have in our local library. Rent books on stories from the bible, books on generosity and kindness, books on courage and being different etc. Books naturally lead to questions and discussion. Next, INVEST in a Children’s Bible and a Children’s Devotional and pick a time of day to read them daily. Below are our favorites:
#3. Listen. Listen to Christian Music… in the car & at home! My kids belt out the lyrics and it makes my heart so happy hearing them singing enthusiastically back behind me as I drive. They also ask our “Alexa” at home to sing their favorites like, “Alexa play Diamonds by Hawk Nelson” (their latest favorite to dance to and one my son played for show-and-tell at school last week!). They have also memorized bible verses through songs like “The Wiggle Worm” which reminds them “Wise people listen, wise people learn. Proverbs 1:5”. My 3 year old daughter loves to remind my son of that one when he is NOT listening (lol). Whenever we are having a grumpy day, christian music cheers the kids up and puts things into perspective for ME.
#4. Talk & Ask ?. Make the most of moments of opportunity like car rides, bedtime goodnights, and even times of conflict as teaching catalysts. Ask your kids questions: What was the best part of today? The worst part of today? What did you learn today? Was anyone kind to you today? Hurtful to you? Were you kind or helpful today ? How would Jesus treat _______ ? Etc. The more we connect with our kids through conversation the more they will want to come to us for advice/guidance as they grow up. We just have to be careful not to come across as too preachy or to force conversation when they are not in the mood… keep it light and playful and follow their lead.
#5. Pray. 1 Thesalonians 16-18 reminds us to “Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances”. All of this is important to teach our kids. Prayer at meals and bedtime is important, but also prayer throughout the day to teach them that God is ALWAYS there to listen. Pray when they are scared, when they feel sick, when they get hurt, when they see someone hurt or sick, when you hear an ambulance, when you pass an accident on the highway, when you see someone homeless on the side of the road etc. Prayer does not have to be some elaborate thing… in fact God wants us to just talk to him, casually, like a friend. Kids’ prayers are the best because they just speak what is on their mind, from the heart. Take turns letting your kids pray throughout the day. My son still prays for “Cherry” who we met under the highway a couple years ago… her name was actually “Sherry” but I am pretty sure God knows who my son ‘E’ is talking about!
#6. Serve. Serve God’s people with your kids. Our family serves at our church packing meals for kids who would otherwise go hungry on the weekends in our area. It is an awesome opportunity through our church and so neat seeing 3 and 5 year olds working their butts off for other kids in need…and it creates opportunity for conversation and prayer too. Check out opportunities within your church and community. Or just choose random people to bless like the mailman or the garbage men (bake treats for them or offer cold water on hot summer days etc.).
#7. Get Outside. Use creation to point to the Creator. Be mindful while outside with your children to point out the marvels of God’s masterpiece. Trips to the zoo… all those awesome animals…all made by God. Time at the park… Do you hear those birds?…who made them?? Look, a squirrel! Experience a sunrise together, or a sunset! The beauty and awe of nature is an amazing opportunity to teach your children (and remind yourself) of the creativity and awesomeness of our God.
** What are some ways YOU teach your kids about Jesus? How do you feed their faith?? I would love to hear your ideas and thoughts below!! Our kids are the future of this broken world… we need some world changers that’s for sure!