Could Accountability Make It Easier to Reach Your Christian Parenting Goals?

In her book, Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin discusses four basic type of people when it comes to goals. You can read her book for the details, but one of the conclusions she reaches is that all but the ”rebels” (who recoil at the mere idea of rules or accountability), can benefit from having accountability for working towards and reaching their goals.

Which made me wonder. Are we not as effective at reaching our Christian parenting goals because the church is no longer structured where we are to hold each other accountable as commanded in scripture? Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about controlling the lives of others or rigid accountability with serious consequences for not meeting goals. Those are cultish and not Christian practices.

What if, however, you and a fellow young parent agreed to touch base twice a week and share if you had been having family devotionals that week? Or an older woman agreed to have coffee with you once a week and hold you accountable for whether or not you were encouraging your kids to read the Bible independently or were praying together more as a family? What if you were in a small group of parents who committed to study specific Bible stories with your kids each week and then spent a few minutes of each small group meeting discussing how it went? Or what if you and another family agreed to sit together in church or go out to lunch after Bible class? Maybe even made reservations to a restaurant to add some more accountability to the mix?

According to Rubin, accountability can help if we are willing to share our goals with an accountability partner. Since her book was secular, she promoted hiring someone like a trainer, teacher or coach, because they would be more demanding and consistent than a friend or relative. If you can build it into a relationship where you already have consistent times in touch with each other, and you both agree on ground rules for the type of accountability and encouragement or “fussing” allowed, it could work almost as well.

If you have a Christian parenting goal that you struggle to reach, try adding accountability to the mix. It might just be the boost you need to finally give your kids those spiritual things you know they need.

Fun Way to Spark Your Kids’ Curiosity About the Parables

Curiosity is one of the keys to a child’s enthusiasm about learning something new. The parables in the New Testament provide great opportunities to engage your child’s curiosity with simple activities.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed found in Mark 4:30-32 is a great example. Mustard seeds in the grocery spice aisle won’t work. Retailers like Amazon, however, sell packets of mustard seeds for planting. You want to find the variety brassica nigra or something similar that can grow to six feet. This particular variety has yellow flowers.

This Spring, (earlier if you want to start the plant indoors) read the parable to your kids. Show them the mustard seeds. Ask them how big they think the plant from the seeds would grow if they hadn’t read the parable. Plant your seeds. Once they appear above ground, regularly measure them to see how tall they grow.

Over time, as the plant grows, have conversations about what the parable means. Discuss what faith is and how to have it. Talk about the things they can do to have a strong faith. Ask them for the questions they have as they think about the parable and faith. If you don’t have the answers, teach them how to find accurate answers to their questions about the Bible.

Many of the other parables in the Bible also have possible activities that can spark their curiosity. From learning about where pearls come from, to understanding the importance of an oil lamp when there is no electricity, to learning about ancient weddings, take advantage of the natural curiosity of your kids and explore the parables in engaging ways. It’s a great way to teach your kids about God.

Cooking Through the Bible With Your Kids

In parenting, it’s always great if you can accomplish more than one thing with the same activity. Your kids need daily exposure to the Bible. Your family needs to have family devotionals when you actively teach your kids what God wants them to know. And your kids need important life skill training in cooking. (Otherwise, they will spend way too much money on take out as young adults!) There is a fun way where you can do all three things at once.

Recently, I discovered a great book about the foods in the Bible. Carefully researched, The Foods and Feasts of Jesus by Douglas Neel and Joel Pugh is a book full of interesting information about the foods and feasts in the time of Jesus. Better yet, it contains authentic recipes you can make with your kids to teach them important cooking skills.

The authors mention various Bible stories in most chapters which you could easily find or Google for verses that mention the various foods and tell your kids the story surrounding the mention. Some of the recipes are rather unique – like making your own yogurt and cheese. Most are quite healthy as they are variations of staples in a Mediterranean diet. Older kids may enjoy some of the historical tidbits they share in the various chapters as well.

If you don’t want to purchase a book, just search online for authentic recipes from ancient Israel. Many modern Jewish recipes were heavily influenced by the Eastern European areas in which many Jewish people lived within the last few hundred years and aren’t necessarily authentic to those that would have been eaten in Bible times. Adding the words “authentic” or “ancient” to your search should help you find more authentic recipes.

As you are cooking, talk about the Bible stories that might connect to the foods you are making. Discuss the life Jesus lived every day – both the mundane and the spiritual aspects of it. Encourage your kids to talk about how life is different today and the ways it is the same. Help them think of ways they can live the spiritual part of their lives to be more like Jesus (although adopting some of his dietary habits is not a bad idea either).

Have fun with it. Gradually encourage your kids to take on age appropriate cooking tasks independently. Adding some of the favorite recipes to your regular meal rotation means they are more likely to eventually be able to cook that meal independently. It’s also a great way to add a regular family devotional time to your family’s schedule.

Fun Mummy Family Devotional

A lot of kids go through a phase when they are fascinated with Egyptian history. Who doesn’t love mummies and pyramids? There are actually quite a few stories in the Bible that take place in Egypt or involve Egypt in some way. Why not encourage your kids’ fascination and teach them some Bible along the way?!

Making your own mummy does require a few special ingredients you need to gather before the devotional. You will need a lot of salt and enough sodium carbonate (look in the laundry section or online) and baking soda, so that when the three ingredients are mixed, they will cover the object you are mummifying. The ratios are one part salt to two parts sodium carbonate and two parts baking soda. For example, if you use ¼ cup of salt, you will need ½ cup sodium carbonate and ½ cup baking soda.

As far as what you will mummify, you can try apples, a piece of chicken or a small fish like a sardine. It’s important to remember that while the “mummy” will look dehydrated when finished, it is no longer edible.

Grab your kids and remind them of the stories about how Joseph ended up in Egypt and how his father and brothers eventually joined him. You can find some of these stories in Genesis 42-50. Point out that when Jacob and Joseph died in Egypt, they both wanted to be taken home and buried in the family tomb. At the time, Egyptians were mummifying bodies, which also made them easier to transport and kept them like the mummies your kids have seen in museums or photos, rather than just becoming a pile of bones.

Jacob’s body was carried back and buried in the family tomb shortly after it was mummified. Joseph’s body on the other hand stayed in Egypt about 400 years until the Israelites escaped under Moses. One of the things they took with them when they left Egypt was the mummified body of Joseph!

Explain to your kids a little bit about mummification from a children’s book or website. Tell them they are going to make a mummy of something other than a person. Help them safely mix the ingredients and cover the “mummy” with them. A Tupperware type of container often works best. It will take several days to mummify, depending upon local humidity, etc. You can check on its progress periodically, but make sure to recover it if it needs more time to continue the process.

As you wait for your mummy to mummify, you can use the time to check it each day and talk about other stories that involved Egypt…including the time Jesus lived there as an infant. The goal is to connect Egypt to the stories in the Bible in their minds. Then whenever they see an Egyptian exhibit, their minds will go back to the Bible stories and the lessons learned from them. It’s a great way to tie something they may see periodically to memories of the Bible. The mummy or anything from Egypt will now act as a cue to bring up those Bible memories. (Just like a rainbow reminds many Christians of Noah.)

Have fun with it! Let your kids’ curiosity spark studying other cultures in the Bible, too. It’s a great way to connect secular and biblical history.

Fun Way to Teach Your Kids About Facts, Assumptions and Opinions

If your kids are school age, you’ve probably already noticed that everything their favorite teacher says is a fact, regardless of whether or not it actually is. It can be funny if the new fact is that okra is the best vegetable ever, but for Christian parents your kids’ lack of discernment can quickly become problematic. Not being able to differentiate between the facts of God’s truths, and the assumptions and opinions of others can leave them spiritually susceptible to being led astray.

There’s a fun activity you can do with your kids to help them begin to discern between facts, assumptions and opinions. Grab a Bible and share with your kids the story of Hannah and Eli found in 1 Samuel 1:1-18. Ask your kids what Eli assumed about Hannah? What was Eli’s opinion of Hannah based on his assumption? What were the facts of what Eli observed? How did Hannah explaining the facts of what she was doing change Eli’s opinion of her?

Explain that if Eli had not taken the time to discover the facts of what was happening, he could have made a lot of mistakes based on his assumption. As it was, he added to Hannah’s distress by falsely accusing her. Had he chosen to tell others or deny her access because of his assumptions, the situation would have gotten even worse.

Teach your kids the difference between facts, assumptions and opinions. Find the dictionary definitions. Give lots of examples – especially for young children. For example: The fact was that Hannah was praying fervently to God. Eli’s assumption was that Hannah was drunk. His opinion of her was negative because of his erroneous assumption. Point out that keeping our assumptions without checking for facts, causes all sorts of problems. Give examples you have seen of people expecting the worst and causing problems for someone who was innocent. Or someone who assumed the best and believed a lie that later hurt them or others.

Then have fun with it. Play a game where statements are made or scenarios given. In each case, your kids must decide if a fact, assumption or opinion is involved. In some cases an assumption can lead to an opinion so in those cases they need to point out both. Older kids may want to create their own statements and scenarios to try and stump the rest of your family. For older kids and teens, you may want to read statements from social media or news articles. Have fun with it, but make the scenarios varied enough that your kids get lots of practice in discernment. Play the game periodically to keep your kids’ discernment skills sharp.