18 “So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 19 Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 20 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors. Deuteronomy 11:18-21 (NLT)
So recently, my eight-year-old son accepted Christ as his Savior and was baptized at our local church. The amazing thing is, that after many of the children witnessed his baptism, they began asking questions and talking to their parents more, and expressing a desire to be baptized. Our church is like many churches, we have a mixture of people, some who have been Christians for 30+ years, many new believers, and some who have strayed from their more traditional church upbringing and have found their faith once again. These families began to talk to our pastor about baptism and wanting to understand more. So we decided to have a meeting at the church where our pastor would outline salvation and what the Bible teaches. My role was to share the journey that I’ve been on with my eight year old son and also to share in general about how to talk to our kids about faith. I was asked to come up with some suggestions and encouragement for some parents who were interested in learning more. Many of these parents grew up in more traditional church backgrounds where talking about God was something that was done at church, by church leaders and not necessarily in the home.
As I have grown in my faith and as I watched my oldest son mature and struggle, I became aware of my responsibility and began to sense the Lord pushing me to be more vocal about my faith with my children. The Holy Spirit open my eyes to the daily opportunities and responsibilities that I have to teach my children about Jesus Christ. I wasn’t always sure what that would look like. In some ways it felt awkward and a bit of a struggle at first. But soon I learned that my children found comfort in my daily prayers in the car on the way to school, sitting on the couch and reading the Bible together, and talking about Jesus as part of our daily lives. It was coming up on my time to submit my post about building self-confidence and I realize that this was a good fit. Many of these things may be obvious to some of our readers, but hopefully for some of those who are still learning and maybe even struggling, these thoughts and ideas will be a source of encouragement.
Being consistent in talking with our kids about Jesus is something that I have found contributes significantly to my children’s self-confidence.
Some things to remember – some truths that give me much freedom – my kids do not need me to be a perfect parent, they need me to point them to their perfect heavenly father. It’s never too late to start talking to our kids about Christ. Being consistent in my own walk with the Lord is the best way to start. If my kids see me spending time reading my Bible and praying on a regular basis, they will start to wonder and be curious. I did not have to feel comfortable to start talking to my kids about Christ. Although I believe it should be natural for parents to teach their children about Christ, that does not mean it will feel natural, especially when it is new. Many of us were brought up where religious/faith-based things were only discussed in church and taught to our children by “church leaders”. The Lord helped me by reminding me that Jesus is a regular part of my life – day in and day out, I can look for opportunities to mention his name and include him as part of the conversations I have with my children. I am always amazed at how much they understand.
For me – I needed to have realistic expectations for myself and for my children. I quickly learned not to expect everyone to be excited about sitting down and reading the Bible – at first there was definitely some resistance. Sometimes I reacted the wrong way but I learned quickly that the best thing to do was to trust that the word of God would be powerful and active in my job was to simply say it out loud. The Lord also reminded me to trust in the Holy Spirit to do the work in the hearts of my children. What has worked for me is finding a consistent daily time praying for and with my children. Like most moms, we spend a lot of time in the car together. Amazingly enough – a few months ago, my radio stopped working. My car is now my prayer room. 🙂 We pray on the way to school, we pray after I picked them up after school, on our way home, and we pray on our way to any evening activities. I asked the Lord to help me to be creative in how I presented the word of God to my boys. They don’t always want to sit down and read, so we have to be creative. They both love music and videos and although I don’t rely on screens to teach the word of God to my children, I certainly use them as a tool. For my kids – I found that keeping the lessons short and simple is best.
What I found to be most effective, is bringing Jesus into my everyday struggles – times of conflict, anger, sadness, frustration, etc..These have proven to always be times when both myself and my children feel a need for help. Typically we both are having a hard time keeping are cool, there are a lot of big feelings going around and stopping and leaning on the Lord has proven to be so powerful. Together we can go to the Lord in prayer and ask for help. Lastly, something I want to start doing –asking the Lord to show me a specific issue that my child may be struggling with, focus on praying for that issue and look for verses in the Bible that I can bring up to help address that issue.
Above all else – I’ve learned to practice forgiveness on a regular basis. Admit when I’m wrong. Telling my child that I am sorry and that I am a sinner in need of Jesus’s help speaks volumes. I try to always remember not to let the sun go down on my anger and to remind my children that God’s mercies are new every morning.
We all need lots of “do-overs”.
So sweet mother – remember that you are not alone.
God is a co-parent with you.
You do your part and trust God to do the rest.
I am confident that the more our children know about who they are in Christ, the more at peace they will be with themselves.
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Liz Jones is a 38 year old mother of two boys- ages four and eight. Married to Aaron for 14 years who was the first Christian man she ever dated a guy who always makes her laugh and pushes her to believe in herself. Liz works full-time outside the home as a Vocational Evaluator where she helps individuals with disabilities determine what kinds of employment they can pursue. She is a Women’s Ministry Leader (which always surprises her) in a small church plant in her neighborhood where she leads a small group of women, with lots of help!, to grow in their walks with the Lord. Liz loves most things mothers love-coffee, going to the bathroom alone to check Facebook on her phone, good conversations with friends, accessories that make jeans and a pair of boots look good and wearing pajamas as much as possible.
For more about living imperfectly but growing and thriving in God’s grace:
The Hardest Work in the World and Yet This
Finding Beauty in the Hard
The Inspirational Moments in the Interrupted Life of a Mom