Learning from one another and sharing our stories

I don’t believe that schooldays are necessarily the best days of everyone’s life. I know enough people for whom school was – and is – painful, disappointing, challenging and an irrelevance. But I do believe that all children have unique insights and abilities, some rarer than others, which too often get lost or diverted as they enter adolescence. As parents we need to appreciate what our junior-aged children especially can teach us. It’s an opportunity for a second dip into the pool of childhood!

Children are forever curious. Join with them in asking questions, even if you don’t know the answer. In God’s world and in the stories of his people, there is so much to wonder about, so many questions to ask. Why did God do this? How did he do that? Where is…? What would have happened if…? How long did that last? Who is…? Try to work out the answers together if you can. If you don’t know the answer, the Internet is a goldmine, old-fashioned books and maps still exist, or ‘call a friend’! Challenge each other to ask bigger and more fantastical questions.

Children love stories and hearing them more than once. One 7-year-old girl loved the story of Jesus bringing Lazarus back from the dead. She especially liked it when Jesus talked with Martha about her brother’s death. Of course Martha wanted Jesus to help her brother. Jesus cares for brothers. (She has an older one!) For weeks she asked to hear this story and it had to be told ‘right’!  So read Bible stories or stories about what Christians are doing or have done in the past. Retell the stories from Guardians of Ancora in your own words. Children often help adults to do this. Act it out! Repeat the same phrase or set of phrases. Deepen your voice; speed it up; take on different accents. It’s fun! It brings Bible stories alive and makes them memorable.

Children are more trusting than adults. Their childlikeness can inspire and challenge us. It is too easy for us to over-complicate faith or to seek to avoid difficult issues. Children are processing everything that they encounter. We must never crush their faith and hope, or put obstacles in their path to understanding.

Children find it easier to talk with God and to praise him. Most children love music so it makes sense to sing to God in an expansive and energetic way or in a quiet reflective way.  Use CDs or YouTube clips or whatever works for you. Non-literal language for many children is not a problem. ‘He is higher than a skyscraper and deeper than a submarine.’ Children find it fairly easy to talk with God who is not in the room, just to chat with him silently in their head and to listen to his voice. Adults take more time to feel comfortable about that.

Jesus said we come to God as little children. I do believe that many parents put their trust in Christ because their children have led them there. Learn together. It’s another form of risky parenting but one that is not to be missed!

Ro Willoughby

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