When our daughter was little, Christians became almost obsessed with the prayer of a guy named Jabez. Jabez was named that by his mother because evidently his birth was pretty painful and I guess she didn’t want him to forget it. Putting aside whatever parenting jewel is hidden in that fact, the focus is actually what comes next in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10.
You see Jabez asked God to bless him and expand his territory. (He also asked God to keep him from evil and causing pain.) As an average Christian mom, you are probably thinking you would consider asking God to shrink your territory a bit or at least give you some “people” to help. On the other hand, I hear so many moms talk about how they are bored or unfulfilled as mothers. They feel as if they are missing something.
So many concepts in the Bible are difficult for children to understand. All young children (and many older children) are concrete thinkers. When they read scriptures talking about God using a “refiner’s fire” (Zechariah 13:9 and more), they may believe God literally uses fire somehow. Even though the references to God as the potter and us as His clay (Isaiah 64:8) are a bit more concrete, they can still confuse children, who may wonder how they are clay.
Sometimes actually showing children items and explaining them in more depth can help them process metaphors and analogies in the Bible a bit more easily. When you think of all of those scriptures and others like them, there is a basic underlying concept. Because we – in this case your children – are born as babies into a fallen world, we aren’t fully yet what God created us to be.
God sends circumstances and people, gives us the Bible, and at baptism the Holy Spirit to help us grow to become more like His image in which we were created. What better example for that than sea glass?
To be an effective Christian parent, you really need to understand your children’s hearts. You need to know their priorities, what they love and what gets them excited about life. Those insights can help better guide you as you dedicate your kids to God. Unfortunately, no matter how well you know your kids, you can ultimately only see the parts of their hearts they allow you to see.
If your child is quiet, very private or going through a tough time, those glimpses of his or her heart can be hard to find. There are some fun things you can do though, that will give you sneak peeks into the hearts of even the quietest child. Some of these you may already be doing with your kids, but didn’t realize the important information the results of those activities was giving you about their hearts.
Here are a few of my favorites and how to start interpreting them.
If you think about it, Christianity is about choices. When God gave us freedom to make choices, He also gave us the freedom to make good choices and bad choices. Sadly, most of us make more bad choices than good ones. It’s the reason Jesus had to die on the cross – for those bad choices that are sins.
Sins are bad choices that can eventually separate your kids from God and prevent them from entering Heaven one day. Your primary goal as a Christian parent is to do whatever you can so your kids make the choices that will lead them to living a Christian life and spending eternity in Heaven.
Unfortunately, like most things in parenting, children are often left to figure out how to make choices on their own. Nobody takes the time and effort to teach them how to make a good, godly choice. The results of this lack of instruction means your kids will be making a lot of unnecessary bad choices – in large part because they are experimenting with the process of making a choice. For many young people, this lack of training means they often default to choices that “feel good or right”. Feelings are often the worst thing to trust when making a choice in life – what we want isn’t always what is best for us.
The good news is the process for teaching kids how to make good choices isn’t really that difficult. The down side is that it can take you quite a bit of time to guide them through this process before it becomes a habit for them at decision making time.
So what do you need to do to teach your kids how to make good choices and make them more consistently? Here are a few of my favorites:
In Why Christian Moms Need Special Outings With Tween Daughters, I shared some of the reasons I believe it’s so important for moms to take the time to go on special outings with their tween daughters. Honestly, I would encourage you to continue the practice well into adulthood. Your daughters will need your love, attention and mentoring all of their lives.
Maybe you love the idea, but have no idea what would be a good outing after you have been to the movies, had a manicure or gone shopping. Below, I’ve shared some of the things I did with my daughter as well as some things my friends have done with their daughters. Unlike other areas of Christian parenting, I don’t think these outings have to revolve around a spiritual or religious activity. Some of our best conversations have happened in tea rooms or on walks on the beach.