Everyday Ways to Teach Your Kids about God
- Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Like most parents, you want to share important spiritual principles with your children. But it’s challenging to find enough time to prepare and teach formal lessons about everything you’d like to impart to them about God.
The good news is that you can relax. Your kids will learn a lot about God simply in the middle of everyday experiences you share together – if you learn how to harness the power of these teachable moments.
Here’s how you can use everyday experiences to teach your kids about God:
Recognize the ingredients of a teachable moment. Understand that a teachable moment – a time when you’re with one of your children and something occurs that offers an opportunity for you to teach something about God – requires three ingredients: a loving bond between parent and child, a catalyst (the reason why the teachable moment is occurring at that time and place), and a specific biblical truth illustrated by the catalyst.
Be available. Realize that your children need and want lots of time with both you and your spouse, and that to build healthy relationships with them, you need to make them a top priority in your schedule. Don’t fall for the myth that a little bit of "quality time" will make up for not spending quantity time with them. Understand that teachable moments often happen unexpectedly, in the midst of ordinary times you spend with your kids. If work or other things are stealing the time you should give your children, change your priorities. Commit to being with your kids as much as possible while they develop their faith in the midst of daily life.
Model a passionate relationship with God. Show your children that you have a passion for God. If you do, you’ll be credible when you teach them spiritual truths, and your kids will catch your passion themselves.
Ask your kids questions. Recognize that when you ask your children questions, you can find out about them and what they need to know. So rather than giving them lectures (which never works, anyway), use questions to build your relationship with them, start conversations, and focus on what your kids want to know at any given moment. Ask them questions about school, the media, their friends, family, hobbies, and church (especially what they’re learning in Sunday School or youth group).
Build a close relationship with each of your kids. Do all you can to establish and maintain a positive, strong relationship with your children. Use common interests to create opportunities for teachable moments. Relax, play, and have fun together. Develop biblically based (not legalistic) house rules and clearly explain the reasons behind them to your kids.
Give your children unconditional acceptance and love. Encourage your kids to freely express their opinions; doing so will help them respect your opinions. Let go of anger that sabotages relationships. Never attack your children verbally or physically. Pray for the strength to respond through the Holy Spirit’s power. Understand that if you keep your temper under control, your children will be able to trust you to act consistently and fairly. As a result, they will better respect the spiritual principles you’re trying to teach them.
Be proactive about finding catalysts for teachable moments. Take advantage of unexpected catalysts that come your way daily, but don’t hesitate to come up with catalysts of your own by choosing special experiences for you and your kids to enjoy together. For example, create holiday traditions that will help you and your kids discuss important spiritual truths.
Tailor your lessons to your kids’ ages. Understand what a child can truly understand about God during various stages of growing up (birth to age 4, ages 5 to 6, ages 7 to 9, ages 10 to 12, ages 13 to 15, and ages 16 to 18). Then keep that information in mind when using teachable moments. Give your kids’ opportunities to explain spiritual truths you’ve just tried to teach them to make sure they received your message.
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