“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7, ESV).
How Kids Think
“What is a ‘family?’” Tragic testimonials and sobering statistics document the traditional family’s fragmentation. Many children grow up without an engaged father or mother; others have a tainted view of God due to their marred role models. Kids are bewildered by today’s widely divergent family configurations and lifestyles.
How God Thinks
Remember that the family is God’s idea, a vital part of His kingdom plan. God establishes and endorses the family as a fortress to withstand the world’s hostile influences. The Bible provides many insights into how to establish dynamic, healthy family relationships (Ephesians 5:22-6:4). Family is an essential support system designed to be the backbone for today’s society.
God chose to directly relate to the family structure by calling Himself “Father”—the One who loves and leads His children (Romans 8:14-17). God’s unconditional love, coupled with our role as adopted children in His family, provides the foundation for healthy human relationships. This nurturing environment also creates a loving place where children begin to form a worldview that will be the foundation for their lives!
Carl and Joanne prayed about when to begin family devotions. They knew it was important; they just weren’t sure how their toddler and two young sons would respond or engage. After finding a children’s Bible they loved, the family gathered for their first family devotional. They conveyed an enthusiastic vision for this family time as they explained their new evening tradition.
Carl read the Bible and showed vibrant pictures of the creation story. He was patient as one son climbed on him and their young daughter attempted to turn the pages too soon. The older boy sat enamored. In the end, Carl and Joanne were very encouraged! They knew that each child was learning differently, based on age and personality.
As time went on, the kids started anticipating and asking for family devotion time. Carl and Joanne saw an emerging spiritual hunger for God. They were pleased with the changes they observed in their children. On some days everyone was fully engaged, on other days trains and empty juice cups distracted their focus. Family devotions became a vital vehicle for spiritual growth. The whole family was learning about God together!
Schedules for the modern family often require a planner or digital calendar to track all the activities. No matter how busy my family became with sports, ballet, music, or church, we fiercely guarded dinnertime. To uphold this tradition, my mother saved dinner until every family member was present.
When we were younger this was relatively easy since my mother drove us to all events. The high school years were more challenging as my siblings and I began driving. Sometimes dinner waited until after 8 pm! Without fail, dinner was family time—even if that meant we ate leftovers or reheated a meal cooked 2 hours earlier. This routine became a part of our family DNA—it kept us connected and close even during the inevitable storms that came our way!
“The statistics are clear: kids who dine with their folks are healthier, happier and better students, which is why a dying tradition is coming back” -Nancy Gibbs, The Magic of the Family Meal
What You Can Do: 5 Practical Tips
Work on generating family loyalty. Building allegiance will promote family teamwork that can withstand the world’s hurricane-force winds.
- Make home a priority. Express sincere appreciation for each other. Spend lots of time together. Make dinnertime a priority.
- Craft a family vision (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Joshua 24:14-15). Teach your children what God wants family culture to be like. Give them a simple vision to pursue!
- Model a culture of “honor” (Ephesians 5:33-6:4). Teach your children how to submit to the Lord and each other. When seeking to honor one other with words and deeds, many conflicts disappear!
- Let love reign (1 John 4:18). God’s perfect love casts out fear. An atmosphere of unconditional love allows each family member to operate in hope. God can express His love through you—even when it may not be natural or easy!
- Champion repentance and forgiveness (Ephesians 4:26-27). Create a family culture where no bitterness or resentment builds up. As family members maintain a “clean slate” with each other, everyone is free to stay in line with God’s heart.
Discipleship Begins With Our Children
Children need meaningful, shared-life relationships. That’s the heart of discipleship. DiscipleLand’s family of Biblical resources forms a complete Children’s Discipleship System™ – an intentional, relational, and transformational process designed to help children know God intimately, love Him passionately, and to serve Him selflessly. Click here for your Free Catalog