(adapted from the book “Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family and Her Home”)
Our main job as parents is to make our children, children of God. Jesus clearly treasured children; in Matthew 18 He tells His disciples, “Whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for Him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:5-6
Here are some suggestions for bring God into your children’s lives.
Take them to church. This is one of the most fundamental things you can do to make God an integral part of their lives, but arguably one of the most difficult as well. Here are a few tips, from moms who have been there.
- Make going to church a regular routine from the time your children are babies.
- Explain, as age appropriate, what is going on during church.
- Some parents find kids listen and pay attention better if they’re sitting toward the front of church, where they have a clear view of the pastor or priest and can better see what is going on. Other parents prefer to sit near the back, where they can easily “escape” if their kids are acting up.
- Be conscious of any noise your kids might be making. While it’s important for kids to remain in church if at all possible, if they’re disturbing those around you, clearly the kids are not paying attention and others aren’t getting anything out of church either. Consider taking your kids out if they’re disrupting the service; to make sure this doesn’t become a habit, impose a consequence later.
- Take quiet snacks and activities to occupy small children. Consider taking faith-based books, coloring or activity books so that kids are still learning about God even if they’re not paying close attention to the service.
- Consider asking older kids to take “sermon notes” or write down questions or observations about the service to discuss later. Doing so might encourage them to pay attention.
- Be very discerning about missing services for school or sports activities. You are sending a message when these things take precedence over church. Check for services on Saturday evening, or investigate churches in the town to which you will be traveling, if appropriate.
Advice for those who don’t have small children in church with them:
- Remember how you felt when you had young kids in church, and remember the importance of kids being in church. If their noise disturbs you, sit in the area of church where the kids aren't.
- Encourage moms and dads who bring their kids, with a smile and a word of encouragement after the service.
- I recently bought a few Bible activity books that were on clearance; I plan to put them in my church and give them to kids (if their parents ok it) if they’re restless. Could you do something like that?
- In our church, activity bags are available. Parents can grab them before church, their kids keep occupied with what’s inside during church and they’re returned after church. Would this be an option in your church?
- If a mom or dad have a particularly difficult time during a church service, make a point of talking with them after church and telling them how much you appreciate them bringing their kids to church. I will never forget something that happened years ago in our church; during a baptism, the older sibling (who was about 3 years old) escaped her grandma’s grip and ran to the front where her parents and baby sister were. The toddler ran around the altar area and made a fuss. The mother was clearly embarrassed. After church, in the narthex, the lady was talking about how bad she felt about what had happened. An elderly lady went up to her and said very clearly, “We LOVE the sound and activity of children in this church!” I've never forgotten the mom’s expression of relief and gratitude at hearing that.
(This post will be continued on “O” Day, “Other Ways to Bring God into Your Kids’ Lives”)
(I’m also blogging at Nebraska Family Times. Today’s post is titled “Knowledge”.)