The hustle and bustle of everyday life challenges us to find quality, uninterrupted time to spend with our family. Even in many Christian homes, we let society dictate what is right and wrong instead of the standards established by God. It is imperative that we spend time together as a family and teach our children God’s way. I believe parents must ensure their ideas and influences are given more weight than those of their children’s peers or society.
Even more important than our own opinions, is God’s message to us. Sharing His truth is essential in our time together as a family unit. While every individual needs a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, it’s in the family relationships where the teaching begins, and through that teaching our knowledge of God is solidified. Only then, can we share His message with others throughout the world.
For the family to accomplish God’s purpose, we must spend time getting to know God individually and together. The place to start is in God’s Word. In order for us to know what God wants us to do, we have to learn to listen, then be willing to follow His path for us.
So how do you get started? The first step is making devotional time a priority. We live in a busy world and there are always excuses and distractions. The best way is to start is in small doses. Begin by taking 10 to 15 minutes for a daily devotion at the breakfast table or at bedtime each night. If you struggle to have a time every day, I suggest trying one or two 30–45-minute devotions a week with a little more in-depth discussion that allows all members of the family to share their thoughts and ideas, and to learn and grow together.
Conversations do not always have to be about God. Start with any topic that interests your children—their favorite sports team, video game, book or television program— conversations about all of these can be used as teaching opportunities. Spend time at the dinner table talking among yourselves. Parents, don’t just ask your children “how was your day” or you are likely to get the closed response “fine.” Open up the conversation by asking them about specifics of their day—something going on at school, the outcome of a sporting event that interests them or even a video game they may be playing. You can then use your responses to their comments as a way to teach them lessons and guide them. Make the time conversational. Ask questions. Be engaged!
Once you have a regular/comfortable discussion time established, there will be more opportunities to draw them into the conversations that you want to have. Setting up a daily devotion helps the child understand the importance of spending time with family and God. Allow them to participate. Include something positive and fun. Allow the oldest child to choose and lead a topic.
Children like storytelling. Choose some practical lessons that they can relate to. While I love to tell typical Bible stories, I have found that most children prefer stories about children their age. Find a Christian book that has recurring stories about a child that is in their age range.
The younger the child, the better chance you have of selecting the topic, and the more influence you will have in helping them develop a strong family bond that will continue to guide them as they grow older. A three-year-old loves it when daddy comes home, and shows it by squealing and jumping about. Too often, a teenager is too absorbed in a game or television to even notice—or they don’t know how to react. You can help continue the connection during the teenage years by spending quality time with them while they are young. A secure family bond and an understanding of God’s desire for them will strengthen them and better equip them to navigate the roller coaster ride of the teenage years.
Once again, the younger you start, the stronger your relationship will be in the future. Children of all ages crave structure, routine and time with their immediate family— even if they don’t act like it!
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