Recently I wrote about the importance of building relationships with your children early and with incredible intentionality. If you’re sold on this, the next step is figuring out what the heck you’re going to talk about. “How was your day?,” can only get you so far, and no one has hours to spend prepping for a magical conversation. The key is to land somewhere in between, prepared enough to guide a helpful dialogue while leaving plenty of space for it to remain organic.
Since my faith in Jesus has positively impacted my life more than any other relationship, helping my children connect with Him is my first priority. I realize that having these sorts of conversations can be incredibly intimidating if you’re not in the habit, but don’t let that stop you! Here are some strategies for diving in confidently:
- GET A BIBLE THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU. The Bible was written thousands of years ago in languages I’m almost positive you don’t speak. So now, there are many different translations of the original scriptures (same Bible, just different ways of saying things). Some are easier to comprehend than others. The NLT, New Living Translation, is one of those. There are also versions with footnotes, which are super helpful, and versions for children at different stages of development. Since Ben and I both work at a church, we collect Bibles like other people collect antiques (OK, I collect those too). One Bible can last you a lifetime, but it’s also A-OK to switch if you’re looking for something different. (Links to the Bibles the kids and I are currently using below.)
- KEEP IT SIMPLE. The Bible contains books of law, history, wisdom, poetry, gospel, epistles, prophecy, and apocalyptic literature. You don’t have to have a clue about what most of that means. Just know that some books are much easier for kids (and adults, for that matter) to wrap their minds around than others. Lydia and I are reading through Luke, one of the gospels, talking about the life and teachings of Jesus. We read a small section each night. After reading, I ask her a few questions such as, “What was interesting? What was confusing? How can we apply what we read?” On my own, I regularly do a Bible study that asks the questions, “If what we read is true, what does that say about God, me and the world?” Try some of those out or make up your own. Becoming a master question asker is a great life skill! The goal is helping them understand and apply what you read and teaching them strategies for eventually reading on their own.
- WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW IT’S A CHANCE TO GROW. The secret’s out: parents don’t know everything….and this is great! Reading the Bible with your kids isn’t just about teaching them about God, it’s about you growing as well! In fact, even if you’ve read the Bible through multiple times, there’s always more to learn and apply. Hebrews 4:12a reminds us of that when it says, “For the word of God is alive and active.” It’s not a one-time read, it’s a lifetime reread, always fresh and new. So when you read something you don’t completely understand or your child asks you something you’re unsure of, don’t fake it or tell them what feels right. Use the opportunity to learn and grow. Call a friend who is further along in their faith, look on some trusted websites or grab a book about the topic.
- LET YOUR CHILDREN HEAR YOU PRAY FOR THEM. There’s nothing like parenthood to turn you into someone who prays fervently. Sending children off to school, worrying about a strange illness and fearing future obstacles are all things that keep parents up at night internally pleading with God. But our children need to hear us pray for them and not just in a crisis. After you’ve read the Bible together you have the ideal opportunity to pray. Again, if you haven’t done this before it can feel strange to start. But keep it up, and you’ll create a new “normal.” In it’s most simple form, your prayers spoken out loud in front of your children help them know your deepest hopes for them.
Last night, Lydia and I read about Jesus’ response to a sinful woman. After our conversation, I prayed, “Lord, help us to remember that we are no better and no worse than anyone else. We all need you, and I pray that Lydia would grow more dependent on you each day. Help her have a gracious and loving attitude toward everyone she meets. Help her reflect your light to the world around her.” It wasn’t long. It wasn’t fancy. It was what I earnestly desire for my daughter spoken out loud, in front of her, to our Heavenly Father.
Friends, you CAN do this!
Feel free to share your strategies for connecting with your children in the context of faith.
And next week (drumroll, please), I’ll let you know how you can start “those” convos, you know, the ones about development and everything else you never wanted to talk to your parents about.
Prayers for you this week!
Here are the Bibles the kids and I are currently using:
Me – Life Application Study Bible (NLT) … Great footnotes!
Lydia – The Hands On Bible (NLT) … It includes fun activities throughout.
Samuel and Noah – My First Hands On Bible (NLT) … Unlike Bible storybooks (some great ones are The Jesus Storybook Bible, Jesus Calling Bible Storybook and The Beginner’s Bible), which summarize Bible stories, this Bible includes actual scripture. It also has simple questions for discussion, prayers and activities.