Teaching Toddlers About God

Teaching Toddlers About God - Parenting Like HannahPeople greatly underestimate what kids are capable of learning and understanding. Even very young children can begin learning basic ideas and concepts about complex things. Unfortunately, many parents want to wait until children are older to begin exposing them to God and the Bible. Oh, they may take them to church, but often the child just ends up playing in a nursery classroom or running up and down the halls.

If you are tempted to wait until later to introduce your child to God, I encourage you to change your mind and start now. You may wonder what a small child can even understand about something as awesome and as complex as God. Yet in reality, many things about God are very basic and simple enough for even the youngest of children to understand.

Here are a few lessons you can begin teaching your child under the age of three (you will repeat them in different, more complex ways with older children and teens):

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Teen Purity Begins at Home

Teen Purity Begins at Home- Parenting Like HannahI blame Anna Wintour. Okay, the infamous editor of Vogue is not the only contributor to the problem, but she has definitely done her part. At some point in time, models went from the clean cut, natural looking Audrey Hepburn types to the hyper-sexualized photographs you can find today in almost any fashion magazine.

When I lived in New York City, I worked very briefly for Harper’s Bazaar magazine. They had Calvin Klein speak at a sales meeting I attended. This was when he introduced the first highly sexual ads and they were still controversial. I will never forget what he said. Basically, he admitted his intent was to shock.

It really wasn’t about beauty at all. He believed if he could shock you, he could get you to look at his ads and buy his clothes. He must have been right, because since that speech in the late ’80’s, other designers have picked up the trend and made it the norm. Unfortunately, the designers’ desire to sell clothes has morphed into sexy being the standard for beauty.

As a society, we have let people like Anna Wintour and Calvin Klein tell us what is beautiful. Even Christians buy in to the lies we are told. Beauty is defined by heavy make-up, “sexy” hair, form fitting clothes and exposed bodies. The natural look may flitter in the fashion world for a moment every few years, but rarely stays long as the “pure” look is not sexy enough to sell clothes. God’s standard of inner beauty is never really considered.

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Starting the School Day With God

Starting the School Day With God - Parenting Like HannahWhether your children attend public school, private school or you homeschool, there is nothing more exciting than those first days of classes. New school supplies, books full of interesting new things to learn and time with friends for kids and moms all add to the promise of great things this year.

Unfortunately, not everything about school is great. All sorts of things can happen in the course of a school year that can pull your children and even your family farther and farther away from God. The school day can be full of temptations for everyone. Your children’s teachers or textbooks can give them false or slanted information that will begin separating your child from God. Peers can influence your children to experiment with things better left untouched. It’s enough to send even the most excited parent back home in tears of anxiety.

There are a couple of quick things you can do each morning before school to help keep everyone connected to God during the day. They only take a couple of minutes, but can help remind your children of the really important goals in life.

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Talking to Kids About God

Talking to Kids About God- Parenting Like HannahWhen my daughter was an infant, I used to put her in the stroller and take long walks around our neighborhood. Looking back, I am sure people driving by probably thought I was a little strange, as I talked to her constantly the entire time. Whether I was pointing out things for her to notice or telling her stories about what we would do later, she heard constant chatter.

Studies have shown talking to infants makes a huge difference in their intellectual growth. By the age of two years, babies who had been spoken to a lot by their parents were up to six months developmentally ahead of children who heard little conversation from their parents. (Guardian Feb. 14, 2014, Ian Sample) In fact, according to Mr. Sample, Professor Erika Hoff stated, “Children cannot learn what they don’t hear.”

What a powerful thought! Our children cannot learn what they don’t hear. Even more importantly, the article quoted experts as saying television and iPhones were no substitute for adults talking to their children about things they might find interesting. Healthy language and intellectual development were dependent on direct, focused, parental involvement.

What if we applied educational science to spiritual education? How would this information apply to teaching our children about God? What things would we need to do to make sure our children were learning about God in the best possible ways? What if we were as concerned about our child’s spiritual development as we are about their language development?

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Family Barnabas Challenge

Family Barnabas Challenge - Parenting Like HannahBarnabas is one of my favorite people in the Bible. We don’t know a whole lot about him, but the descriptions in Acts (4:36, 9:27,11:22-24, etc.) always caught my imagination. What would a person be like who was known as the son of encouragement? How would someone behave who was known for encouraging others and being a good man, full of the Holy Spirit?

We don’t know for sure, but I would think Barnabas was known more for building people up than tearing them down. I doubt he gossiped or talked badly about people behind their backs. Barnabas may not have baked cookies or had access to Hallmark cards, but I am sure he used his words and whatever was available in his time to make others feel loved and hopeful. I can imagine Barnabas helping people discover their gifts and how to use them in service to God. I can see him consoling someone who had sinned and giving them hope that they could indeed repent.

What if every Christian family became a Barnabas family? Could your family become a family who seeks out the best in everyone and shares their observations with them? Sincere compliments meant to encourage could change someone’s life. Could your family send cards or take food to people who may be lonely or discouraged? What if your kids were the first to talk to the kids in school who are normally ignored or bullied? What if you assumed that cranky neighbor had the best of motives and showered her with kindness?

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