How well do your kids know themselves? Do they know their strengths? How about their weaknesses? Do they know what makes them sad? Do they know if God has given them a passion to serve Him in some specific area? Do they know their heart’s desire? Do they know if their heart is turned towards God or away from Him? Do they have their own faith in God or is it just something they do to please you?
The answers to all of those important questions and more are in your child’s heart. Your children need to be encouraged to spend the time and take the effort to figure out what exactly is in their hearts and whether or not it is what God wants them to have there. To know their own hearts, they have to be able to think, dream and pray. They have to have undistracted time to ponder, reflect and read the Bible. They have to have time where nothing more is required of their brain than finding out what is truly written on their hearts.
Unfortunately, if your kids are like most today, there is no such time in their lives. Their days are filled with school, sports and other extra curricular activities. Even their youth groups probably have them participating in one activity after another. Any down time they do have is filled with screens and noise. Lots and lots of noise.
My family will tell you I am the queen of constant music – usually loud enough to drown out my “wonderful”singing. When I was young, single and relatively poor, I learned something by accident though. My car died a very early death and I hadn’t paid it off yet. Which meant I couldn’t really afford the new car I needed to buy. I sacrificed having a stereo system to be able to purchase the car. My commute was long and suddenly very silent.
At first, I thought I would lose my mind. Slowly, I adjusted though and found that quiet time provided me with lots of time to think, dream and talk to God. I came to value that time and almost regretted it when I later bought a car with a stereo. (Don’t worry, my long walks and laying in bed awake while everyone else is sleeping has replaced it!)
Your kids desperately need that down time. Yes, I know they will whine and complain and probably drive you to reconsider a lot of your parenting principles. At first. You may be surprised though at what happens once the withdrawal symptoms subside. Your kids may suddenly display creativity you didn’t realize they had. They may start exploring and developing their gifts from God. Who knows, with a little encouragement, they may spend time reading their Bibles and praying. I can almost promise you though, that after awhile they will begin thinking and pondering a lot of things. With a little guidance, those thoughts may be about what is on their hearts and how they can turn them more towards God.
Give your kids the gift of regular, quiet, screen free time. If you can afford it, think about spending the money to start the quiet time challenge with a family retreat to somewhere unique and quiet. Provide fun journals or sketch pads. Bring your Bibles. Take long walks or sit outside for an hour looking at the night sky. Once your children have taken the time to get to know themselves and their hearts, it may just be easier for them to share their hearts with you and for you to help them mold them towards God.