Parenting is hard work. I have six kids, so I should know. However, parenting can be one of the most rewarding endeavors in which we engage. I think what makes the difference is whether or not we seize the moment and invest. Deuteronomy, one of those often neglected books in the Old Testament, has a few words to say about investing in your kids. Here are five ways you can begin investing in your children today that will have huge payoffs later.
5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your being, and all your strength. 6 These words that I am commanding you today must always be on your minds. 7 Recite them to your children. Talk about them when you are sitting around your house and when you are out and about, when you are lying down and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them on your hand as a sign. They should be on your forehead as a symbol. 9 Write them on your house’s doorframes and on your city’s gates. – Deuteronomy 6:5-9
1. Tell Stories to Your Kids – Kids love stories. My kids always ask me to tell them stories from my childhood. Their favorites are ones they have heard a thousand times. We also tell them stories from the Bible, even if they have heard them a thousand times. Telling stories gives you time to snuggle, opportunities to discuss, and a common family narrative.
2. Schedule Family Time at Home – Most families these days don’t really spend time together. Even when they are all home they are disconnected. Dad is watching the game, mom is on the phone, and the kids are playing video games. That doesn’t count as family time. Try turning off all electronics and sharing a meal together. Something amazing happens when we all sit at the table (at least 3 times a week) and eat and talk. Play games together. And, tell stories (see #1 above).
3. Go Out Together – Look for opportunities to get out and about as a family. This doesn’t have to be expensive. Get creative. Go on a walk or visit a local park. Go to the zoo or the beach or the woods or whatever is around where you will. Enjoy your own neighborhood. This will allow you to meet your neighbors, to understand the blessings and the struggles of your community, to interact with strangers, and to tell stories and create memories (for future stories). For those with teenagers you will be blown away how a simple car ride to nowhere can bring out the inner most thoughts of your child. Don’t believe me? Give it a try.
4. Establish a Bedtime Routine – Too many of us rush about all day that when the evening comes we do one of two things. We either fall down exhausted or we realize that in all our rushing we didn’t really get anything done and so we get to doing those things. The end of the day is a great opportunity to check in and hear some more stories. We ask our kids two questions, “What was your happy things today?” and “What was your sad thing?” We often read a story to them, either from scripture or from a missionary story. Establishing a bedtime routine allows you to speak the last word into your kids’ lives before they go to sleep. Your voice gets to trump the voices of the world.
5. Have Morning Devotions – Let God have the first word of the day. Set the tone of the day by sitting down as a family and hearing God’s word together. This doesn’t have to be elaborate or long. Read a psalm, say a prayer, bless each other. We like to read a chapter of scripture, work on our memory verse and have the kids draw or write in their Bible journals. When we miss family devotions (yep, we miss some times) our kids will tell me, “Dad, we meed to get this family back on track!”
There you have it, five ways to invest in your children. So go ahead and get started and enjoy your kids … no matter how old they are.