I don’t know about you, but occasionally I find myself in a virtual ‘rabbit hole’ watching animal videos. I was especially intrigued to watch a mama fox with her offspring. With just a little nudge or a nip, or a full-on grab of the scruff of the neck, somehow the mother fox was able to direct her young to move or do what she wanted. And when the time finally came for her to teach her offspring how to be a fox, she modelled how to stalk, pounce, and catch her prey. Fascinating!
I think everyone wishes that being a parent of human offspring were a little more instinctive, like it is for the fox. However, one thing that we can learn from our animal friends is that as parents, we model ‘life’ for our kids. This can be a very daunting concept because some days we certainly don’t feel like modelling anything! But the fact remains that our kids see how we live our lives, how we respond to situations, and what our priorities are. These are the things that are ‘caught’ and not ‘taught.’
I can’t help but think about the words of the apostle Paul when he encourages us to
“imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1 GWT).
The truth is, as followers of Jesus, we are all a work in progress. If we make it our goal is to live our lives following Jesus’ example, then we will be modelling true ‘life’ to our kids.
Thankfully we’re not left on our own to figure out how to do this. John 1:14 says,
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Jesus lived life among us so we could see how to live. The Bible is our guidebook to life – and God can speak to us when we read his Word (Hebrews 4:12).
The sooner you can establish rhythms of spending time with God, both as a family and on an individual basis, the easier it is to foster a love for His Word early on in your children. Choose a Bible that is age-appropriate and read it with them at bedtime. Around the breakfast or dinner table, take a few minutes and read a devotional that inspires great questions and conversations about faith and the world around us. Pray with your children and show them that prayer is simply a conversation with God. By modeling faith talk and faith disciplines with your children, you will help them establish spiritual rhythms for themselves. (Be sure to keep reading to the bottom of this post for Bible and devotional suggestions for your family.)
Front Row Seats
Healthy relationships are important for all of us, but it’s extremely important for children to observe and experience this for themselves. Our children have the “front row seat” view of our relationships with our spouse, our families, our friends, and our co-workers. And we all know that our interactions with others can either bring out the best or worst in us. With the help of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we can navigate our relationships in healthy ways.
I’ve always found the characteristics of the Fruit of the Spirit, found in Galatians 5:22-23, to be a great tool to remind me of how to have good relationships with others: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Can you imagine if everyone lived like this? Wow … we would be living in a different kind of world! Take the time to memorize these verses, investigate each characteristic, and practice them in your relationships. And then help your children to learn and develop them in their lives, too.
Every parent wants to have a great relationship with their kid. But just like any other relationship, it will take some work. And the reality is that many of us will have to let go of unhealthy habits and behaviours. Remember the power of your words.
“The tongue can bring death or life” (Proverbs 18:21).
It doesn’t matter how old we are … we all need to hear I love you. So say it often! Be generous with encouraging words: I’m proud of you; you’re very good at ____; good job! And beware of destructive words; words that are insulting, name calling, or words that show favouritism. Help them learn to treat others as they would want to be treated (Matthew 7:12) and then in turn, treat them as you would have wanted to be treated at their age.
We are all on our own journey and we are all a work in progress. No one ever said that being a parent was easy – and honestly, sometimes it feels overwhelming. But even when we feel weak, we have the promise of God’s grace.
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:16 NLT) Amen.
Pastor Crystal Sylvester and the FAC DiscoveryLand team are committed to partnering with families to build young lives that honour God! Be sure to check out the resources below for ways to build your family. And while our DiscoveryLand in-person programming is temporarily on hold, connect with DiscoveryLand Online each weekend for fun, age-specific worship and teaching, right in your home!
Faith-Building Resources for Families
These items are in stock at FAC‘s Cornerstone Marketplace with the exception of the titles marked with a “*“ before them; these items can be ordered for you.