Monday, March 21, 2011

Parents - What are you modeling?

As parents we know how closely our kids are watching us, and seeing if what we say matches what we do. As a follower of Christ that can sometimes be scary. But how can we make that a good thing?

This morning, waiting for the school bus, my youngest son wandered in and asked what I was doing. Seeing the iPad in my hands, I have a feeling he wanted to know what game I was playing (and if he could have a turn). The simple answer would have been "Reading." What I said instead was "I'm reading the Bible. It's talking about how people see God in nature and events. I'm also praying. Is there anything you would like to pray about?"  At this point I expected "No" or "That I have fun at school today." Instead, he asked if we could pray for those people hurt by the earthquake. Whoa. And so we did. And we prayed for mom who wasn't feeling well. And I added a prayer that he have a great day at school :)

Through this I saw two mistakes it's easy for us to make as parents. The first is misunderstanding the call for humility and not calling attention to praying (or fasting) and thinking that we should not be clear to our own children about what we are doing. My children don't see me studying the Bible or spending significant time in prayer after their bedtime or before they get up. There's a huge spiritual component to my life that is invisible to them. If I don't consciously model it or share it with them, how will they learn time with God is the source of my hope and strength?

The second problem is to underestimate our children (especially when they are younger). This leads us to oversimplifying a story or an answer to their question, or failing to talk to them about important things going on in the world around us. We had discussed the earthquake and tsunami in Japan at dinner earlier this week. His takeaway was more than 'weather is powerful'. It was also "The people of Japan are hurting. They need our prayers. They need our help. What can I do?"

So go ahead, let them see you reading the Word, praying, sneaking a kiss with mom. It would have been 'more productive' to wait five minutes until he was on the bus to dive into Romans. I'm glad I chose to jump in while his little eyes were looking.

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