Faith: Family Devotions: Who is developing your child's spiritual character?
We drop our children off for piano and dance lessons, we drop them off for karate and swim lessons, but who is developing their spiritual character? We, as parents, need to take the time and use every opportunity to shape our children into Godly people.
Family devotions may seem overwhelming, but they are vital and can be integrated into your busy lifestyle. Sometimes we may need to be a little creative, but it’s worth it.
Set a Goal
If you do not already have family devotions, but would like to start, make a goal that you will be able to reach. Don’t set yourself up for failure or a guilt trip. Start with one or two times a week and make it a fun family time.
Choose a time that works for everyone, after dinner, before bed, on Saturday morning, whatever fits your family. Milton Bradley advertised family game night; you can piggy back off of that and also do family devotions. You can always add more days or change when you meet to make adjustments in your schedule. Your children look to your for guidance, so make sure that what you set out to do, you are able to fulfill.
Remember, your attitude can give you uncommonly positive perspective. Soldiers saw Goliath and thought; he’s so big we can never kill him. David thought, he is so big, I can’t miss him!
Instill Habits Early
It is important to be a role model and instill a habit for God’s word at an early age. Children are receptive to learning even at a young age. Think of ways that toddlers learn; by having you read to them, singing to soothe them, the TV shows they watch, and other life experiences. It makes sense that when you have these life experiences with your child that God is a part of all of it. There are teachable moments daily when children fight over toys or are uncooperative, or when they do something nice for a friend. Always be on the look out for these opportunities to talk about God.
Children learn best at an early age and research shows that their faith development is formed by the early age of 13. Your child will be influenced by media, books, school and advertisements — be sure that you have given your child the strong foundation he needs. Don’t expect your church or religious organization to fully develop your child’s faith perspective. They can walk beside you and support you, but you should be the main resource for your child.
Older children will be watching you to see if you “walk your talk.” Spend time together as a family doing service in your community or church. It doesn’t have to be every week or month, but hook up with an organization and work on something together as a family. Can you serve a meal to a sick neighbor or shovel their snow? In my home, when I bake something, the kids always ask, “Is this for us or someone else?” I am hopeful that my service to others will rub off on them also.
Janette Haak is the Sheepfold Coordinator at St. Luke-Ann Arbor and holds a master's degree in education with a ZA endorsement. She home schooled her children for 12 years and is now a remedial reading tutor.