Finding time

‘Stop messing about and get ready for bed!’

‘What do you mean you can’t find your school bag?’

‘Hurry up!’

‘Switch it off!’

The challenge of child-rearing! Life’s a rush-around. Equipment for this, money for that, a lift here, find something there... Parents, being human, also need to get themselves here, contact someone there, find money for this and have a bit of personal space. So where is there time to help our child become more God-aware and reflect on what following Jesus means?

‘Not one more thing!’

But… don’t despair! Take heart! This will only take 2.5 minutes to read… and a bit longer to think about!

  1. As a parent, more than anyone else, we influence the views and opinions of our child.  That will take around 14 years! We mould our child spiritually – note, not clone them, nor brainwash. By then, the majority of young people have made vital decisions about faith, about the values they embrace and the sort of person they want to be. Though nothing’s set in stone. There are still plenty of opportunities for more discoveries and development – children and adults are lifelong learners!
  2. It’s the reality of our Christian faith that counts. What we believe, what we say and how we live life needs to be real, however tangled and imperfect we might be. Some of us are just starting on our own faith journey and are maybe concerned about how little we know ourselves; others can’t remember a time when we didn’t know Jesus – but still feel adrift when it comes to sharing that with our own children; many of us have good intentions but the rest of life crowds in.

Children aren’t looking for perfect parents but they do want a parent they can admire, someone who loves them to bits, whatever; a parent who is real. A child can accept God loves them if their parent puts their own experience of God’s love into practice. Children whose parents have different faith perspectives will identify the differences. They’ll make decisions about that too. We can’t pretend to our children: they know us too well. But we don’t need to: whatever size or shape our relationship with Jesus, our children see us - and see Jesus in us.

  1. Inspiring our children to enjoy God’s love is not something we do on our own. Belonging to a community of other Christians is all-important. Here our children will encounter other followers of Jesus who can share their experiences of God and answer those questions we can’t. Look out for a local church or Christian group and go there regularly. Admittedly, that’s a time commitment, but it benefits everyone in unimaginable ways.
  2. Good parenting means spending time (lots of it) with our child, listening to them. (That’s where ‘time’ comes in and sacrifice too. But they are the most precious gifts we have.) It doesn’t matter where, when or what we do with them. These times will include telling or reading stories from the Bible, or stories about our own experience of God, or enjoying God’s world, or weeping together over what’s gone wrong in God’s world, or playing Guardians of Ancora.
  3. We aim to be as a good a parent as we can. Every now and then, we’ll intentionally talk about the God we love, the God-journey that we and they are travelling together. It could become a habit we never want to lose!

Ro Willoughby

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