I am sure you’ve never been out in public with young children and been embarrassed by their behavior. Never, not you. Not your kids. But just…
Most days, during snack time, I read a chapter book to my girls. Picture books used to be the norm, but as they’ve gotten older, we’ve graduated to more sophisticated material (not really, that just sounded good). Actually it’s probably a bit over the heads of my younger two. But they have food to eat, so they are content enough.
Except, the Christian fiction book we’ve been reading, that was supposed to be super awesome, started getting a tad dry and long. As it started dragging on, the little ones started overly squirming (I couldn’t blame them, I wanted to squirm too). Just as I was about to throw in the towel 3 quick reasons motivated me to keep going:
- If they glean any nugget of deep truth imbedded in the story, that’s great!
- The story contains rich vocabulary, and that’s never a bad thing to expose our kids too. In fact, it’s a little like brain exercise.
- Even if they understand absolutely nothing about the story, they are learning to sit still and listen quietly. It may feel like a high standard — but it’s an opportunity to practice self-control!
I surely don’t want reading to become a bore, so I won’t always use this logic. However, sometimes the hard thing to do is the best thing to do. Which got me thinking, are these not worthwhile endeavors for all of us to consider as we raise the next generation?!In parenting, sometimes the hard thing to do, is the best thing to do. Click To Tweet
Wouldn’t it be great if the upcoming batch of kids was equipped with nuggets upon nuggets of spiritual truth? And what if they enjoyed learning, and could process (and communicate with) rich vocabulary? And how amazing would it be if they could rise to a high standard thereby exhibiting self control whenever necessary?! Of course those are worthwhile goals!
Choosing “the hard thing” is definitely worth it when it helps our kids’ character! And sometimes it doesn’t even take the harder thing, sometimes it just takes intentionality. Either way, here are a few thoughts about accomplishing each of the 3 goals:
Goal #1 Keep teaching biblical truths
The key word is “keep” — just keep teaching biblical truths. Find several times in the day in which you are ready to discuss meaningful (eternity-related) things. Intentional discussion might not happen every one of those times, but if you have several options, hopefully you’ll utilize at least one every day. Place some good books at the breakfast table, or keep some conversation starters in the car, or maybe ask a set of questions after church each week.
In other words, figure out what it looks to teach biblical truths “when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:7).
Goal #2 Develop a love for learning
Every kid is made different. Some are surely more scholastic by nature. But make sure, whatever their makeup, you do what you can to cultivate a love for learning.
Ultimately you want your children to become adults who know how to think intelligibly about things that matter, you want them to be students of God’s word, and you want them to communicate what they believe with logic and clarity. It’s not about having a high IQ, it’s about raising kids who think well. Adults who think well are less likely to be carried about by every wind of doctrine or deceitful teaching (Ephesians 4:14), or by every wind of emotion for that matter.
So incorporate fun learning into life. Stretch your child’s ability to spend time in quality books (start with 10 minutes every day until they are used to it, then add 10 more minutes until they are used to it, and just keep adding). Listen to audio books. Expose them to big ideas, rich vocabulary, and lots of “brain exercise.” Be a family that reads, thinks, and discusses concepts.
Goal #3 Keep the standard high
Of course my littles could sit still during a picture book, but I want them to be still when something feels long and boring. For all us, I imagine it’s tempting to keep the standard right where our kids can comfortably meet it. But rarely will our kids supersede our standard. Which is why we must raise the bar if we want them to reach for it.
God, of course, makes the standard high for us too. He doesn’t lower the standard to what feels “doable” — No, he says there should be no complaining, no worrying, no selfishness, no pride, no jealousy, etc… God actually wants us to aim for complete holiness.
In other words, a high standard is a good thing. What bar needs to be raised in your home?
Do your kids know how to work hard? Maybe you should assign them chores that initially seem extra difficult. Help them a little as they’re learning, but start expecting more from them. Before you know it, they will surprise you with what they can do.
Do they exercise self-control? Maybe try my method of reading increasing amounts of long and dry books! (Kidding, kind of. If you do it, just make sure wonderful and exciting books make it into their life too!)
Do they know how to be kind to mean people? Do they know how to sacrifice for the good of others? Do they know how to listen to people and ask good questions? Decide where your kid needs to be challenged, and raise the bar!
Stick with it
Honestly, I’m not sure whether continuing with the long, dry, kinda boring chapter book is more painful for me or my littles. Yes, I write in present tense because we are still trying to finish the book— but one reading session at a time we will get there. And let me tell you, just finishing it will be a big accomplishment!
But hopefully it will be more than that — hopefully some biblical truth will get discussed, hopefully some good brain exercise will take place, and hopefully some self control will be mastered. Hopefully. I will stick with it and find out.