It seems that parents find it increasingly hard to talk about spiritual things with their children but that it’s just as necessary as ever. Simon Heather, Youth Minister at St Nicholas Church in Sevenoaks, shares some advice.
Sometimes when I have a task to complete, I’m happy to chip away at it little-by-little over a period of days or weeks. But there are other times, especially when the task is daunting (for me that’s usually anything on an Excel spreadsheet!), where I tend to leave it and leave it – and then I’m forced to try and complete the whole task in one sitting, often rushed, and with little success.
I confess I sometimes slip in to parenting this way too. Conversations with my children about Christ and about Christian living can be put on hold – only to need a kind of “cramming session” at a later date. This rarely goes well though. None of us can take in too much in one sitting, especially young ones. Much better to let the name of Christ gently flow through our daily conversations. This is the kind of pattern in Deuteronomy chapter 6:
“these commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up…”
I guess today we might say: “Talk about them when you sit in the garden, when you drive to the beach, when you’re heading to bed, and over breakfast…”
This will be a particular challenge to those with children at busy independent schools or boarding schools when time with children is limited. However, the long holidays give us a great opportunity to speak gently but often about the Lord Jesus, right from the start. Picking kids up from school, phone calls at the end of the day, family Whatsapp chats can also keep you chatting to children even in the busyness of term time.
A little can go a long way.
Speaking in this kind of constant “drip-drip” way we demonstrate to the children how Christ is always as at the centre of our daily lives, never far from our minds, and as essential to us as the air that we breathe. This is easier said than done and we need to ask for God’s help, as well as confessing to him that he isn’t always right in the centre of our own thoughts. But as he enables us more and more to live and speak in this way, then we will be able to gently guide our children towards the Christ who we love and serve and we can pray that those very conversations with our children change us too – reminding us as well as our children about the greatness and the beauty of Christ.