Purposeful Parenting: 3 Important Times to Engage With and Love Your Children Well
Carolyn Moeller - Worship Ministry Admin
In sixth grade, I decided to give basketball a try. I was fast and I was determined, but that was about all I had going for me. I remember those first games sitting on the bench, anxiously waiting for the coach to yell my name and pull me into the game. The time finally came and the coach yelled “Wetendorf! Get in there!” I subbed in and ran onto the floor, ready to make my coach proud. I ran into position, got away from my defender, caught the ball, and nervously threw the ball up into the air toward the hoop.
It for sure had the highest arc anybody had ever seen and seemed to take years to come down, but when it did, it came down straight through that hoop making a swish. I still can hear my coach laughing and saying, “Well, that will work!” Months later that same coach would catch me staring off into space during practice and yell, “Wetendorf! Are you just going to stand there or are you going to play ball!?”
There are many times in parenting when we are on the bench in a more inactive role. When we are at work, when the kids are at school, when they are sleeping, or when they are playing or working independently. But then there are times that the coach yells our name and pulls us into the game and we have to be ready to give it our all. Here are a few key times as parents when we need to get our game face on.
1. At The Table
Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Dinner time is an important time in our house. We all find our way home and take a break from our activities and work to enjoy a meal together. This is not always a natural instinct. Work or chores keep calling my name, that Instagram feed is perking my curiosity, and it is so tempting to just plop some plates down in front of the kids and carry on with my current mission around the house or on my computer.
Through the years, we have seen the importance of this time together grow. It’s a time when we all stop to pray together, when we catch up on our day, and when we have some quality time to pour into the kids and inquire about their day. We connect about what the next few days will look like and can address any issues that need addressing. With younger children, this can be an important time to simply teach them how to eat. They learn how to sit at the table without getting up, how to carry on a conversation with each other and how to eat their food in a timely manner. Weeks get busy and different seasons have their challenges, but intentionally protecting a handful of family dinners a week is a key time to connect physically and spiritually, and be proactive in our kid’s lives.
2. Before and After Bed
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
Especially with younger children, before and after bedtime are crucial times for starting and ending your day well. No matter your life style, these are usually times that everyone is with their kids across the board. This is a time when intentional conversation, play, or teaching can happen, but even more than that, either of these times are great ways to model and help your children cultivate their relationship with the Lord in His word and in prayer.
Every morning since I can remember, my mom would be in her chair, reading her Bible and spending time in prayer before she began her day. This strongly influenced me growing up and has been an incredible model of a life delighting in the Lord and seeking His heart. Pray with your children in the morning or on the way to school and dedicate everyone’s day to honoring God.
Before bed, spend time with your kids reflecting on the day, seeking God’s forgiveness, or simply letting His words seep into your kid’s minds. As your kids get older, dig deeper into the Bible and teach them how to study and apply God’s Word. Ask heart revealing questions and patiently point them to Christ. Because children naturally want to stall bedtime, capitalize on this time to let them talk about their day, their concerns, their current interests etc. My kids will talk my ear off at bedtime if it means they get to stay up an extra 10 minutes, and I learn a lot about them!
3. The Little Moments
Deuteronomy 4:9 “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children's children—“
It’s easy to coast through our days and just get the basics done to survive. And believe me, I know that many days with kids “just surviving” is a huge win. However, it doesn’t take a lot to notice and turn routine moments into Gospel moments to make the most of our time pointing our kids to the Lord. When you’re driving and notice that beautiful sunset in the sky, make mention of it and talk about the beauty and joy of God. When two of your kids are in an argument, take a moment to go deeper than “knock it off” and talk about the kindness and love that we have been shown in Christ. If your child asks you of one those hard questions about death or eternity, don’t ignore it and give an unspecified answer.
Buckle up and use those times to teach the life-giving gospel of our Savior. If they ask a question you don’t know how to answer, do your best, do some research and circle back with them at a later time. Every day there are dozens of teachable moments that we can use to shift our kids’ gaze upward if we are ready for them.
Basketball never turned out to be my calling. I never played perfectly and made plenty of mistakes, but when it was my time to play, I gave it my all and did everything that my coach taught me to do. For those of us with children, parenting is our calling from God everyday. There are times when we get a little break on the bench, but when we get called in, it’s time to tighten up our laces and get ready to give it all we’ve got.