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Parenting: It’s A Dirty Job But Someone Has To Do It Part 3

This is the third part in a series My wife & I thought we would share on parenting.  Each blog shares a couple parenting realizations we’ve had.  I say realizations because sometimes it feels that way.  Like you’re stumbling, but hopefully stumbling forward.  Some of the “realizations” are born out of mistakes we’ve made and others are lessons we learned from others.  If you missed part one or two, I would encourage you to check them out (part 1 & part 2).

TALK ABOUT YOUR FAITH AS A FAMILY

There are a lot of great parents who will say that you need to do family devotions.  In fact, Janelle and I used to think we were bad parents because we didn’t do family devotions.  It’s probably a very special time for some families who are having wonderful experiences with their own children.  When Janelle & I were growing up, both of our families would do a family devotion from time to time and we didn’t enjoy it at all. (Sorry mom and dad!).  

So we needed to try to find other ways to disciple our kids that didn’t require a fixed regular time and format.  It’s a little more organic.  Depending on your personality, it can be more difficult because you have to look for moments…or make them.  So, if family devotions are working for you, please continue, but if (like us) you are looking for an alternative way of discipling your children, here are a few suggestions:

  • In discussions that get even remotely close to our faith, we harness the conversation to circle around the points we want to discuss with our kids.  Prayer requests.  Politics. Missions trips. Favorite Bible verses.  Often, at the dinner table we will bring up the day’s highs and lows and from there we can help steer the conversation.
  • We include our kids in all our decisions where generosity is concerned.  A number of years ago our church participated in something called the Advent Conspiracy to raise money to build wells in Africa.  Essentially, each person in your family gives up a present at Christmas and you give that money to someone in need.  As the years have gone on we have continued that tradition and expanded it every chance we got. When those opportunities present themselves we include our kids in the discussion as a way of discipling them in the area of generosity.

NOTE: I think it works best when your children feel a little of the sacrifice, or sting, of being generous.  We always try to explain to our kids that we are giving up something we really want so that we can to give to someone in need.  God gives to us, not so that we can hold on to it, but so that we can share with others.

  • We always prioritize going to and serving at church.  The discipline of going to church, the messages we hear, and the service that we give are not only good for us, but help create great, deep and meaningful conversations as a family.  
  • We turned praying for our meals into praying for a loved one, our neighborhood or our country.  I stole this idea from a friend and I think it’s working great.  We wrote the names of every person or thing we wanted to pray for on popsicle sticks and put them in a jar.  Every time we pray together over a meal, we pull a popsicle stick and pray for that person/thing.  Not only do we get to pray for that person/thing, but we get to talk to our kids about the issues involved and the importance of prayer.

BE CAREFUL LITTLE EARS WHAT YOU HEAR

If your child is anything like mine they have the most incredibly selective hearing imaginable.  While standing right next to them, you could ask them to pick up their room or get off their phone and they don’t hear a word, but start talking about something private and they hear every word.  I mean, over the stereo blasting while whispering in my wife’s ear they can recite every detail of the conversation.

We have made it a point to be very careful about the way we talk about our pastors, leaders and even our politicians.  I have to admit, we are not always perfect;  frustration can boil over, especially watching the news.  However, if we are having any trouble at work or I’m having an issue with any of my leaders we don’t discuss it with our children present.

That’s not to say we can’t be honest with our kids, especially as they have gotten older.  And in fact, these conversations help disciple our kids (see the section above).  But, if we do feel the need to tell them something or they ask, we always make sure we speak about our leaders with respect and grace.

 

What parenting “realizations” have you had?  Share them in the comments below.

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