Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Deuteronomy 4:9
Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 11:18-19
The lockdown of 2020 due to the pandemic impacted our family in ways that I struggle to put into words. It gave us an opportunity to examine our way of life, our priorities, and the areas we needed to improve in.
We were always on the go, juggling work, school, extracurricular activities, volunteering, and much more. That was how we were functioning for years. When everything came to a halt, we were finally able to slow down and draw closer as a family. We have all grown during this time. I have taken on things I never thought I could do, like homeschooling my youngest, who currently thinks I’m the best teacher ever. 😉
We were like puzzle pieces in a box and just needed time to work on putting all the pieces together so we could see the beautiful family picture.
A new tradition is born
Out of this lockdown, a new tradition was born. One I hope we will continue for a long time. We created a “Family Circle” time each night, 5 days a week. Each night someone would lead our discussion on any topic they chose. We made sure to carve out the time, regardless of what was going on around us. We would end off with a prayer for family, our country, front liner workers, those in need, etc…
I will admit we were overzealous when we just started and had to make adjustments along the way but what came out of our times together was simply amazing.
Our children have a voice, they have ideas, gifts, strengths, and many times we as parents stifle those because we don’t create the opportunity for our children to live it out. We silence their voices by our actions and words.
A couple of years before the pandemic, I came to the realization that we had never asked our children about “church”. What they liked, didn’t like, how it made them feel, what they felt God was speaking to them… My husband and I sat down with our children and had a very insightful conversation with our children. Finally, we got to see through their eyes things that we had missed and learned what was important to them.
We have a duty to teach our children about God’s way and as Deuteronomy says, “talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” This to me indicates a way of life and a two-way conversation. Talk about the goodness of God, remind them of answered prayers, times God provided, we share our testimonies, and how God delivered us. We look for teaching moments throughout the day and “God’s handprints”( when we can see the way He intervenes in our lives.)
“God’s hand prints”
Years ago, we went on a family vacation to Caye Caulker. One night, Dion left his phone on a beach chair and forgot all about it. When we remembered and retraced our steps it was gone. We checked with the front desk and nothing was there either. The kids were so sad about it because Daddy needed his phone for work. They decided to pray about it. The next morning while we were at breakfast, I got a call from a young lady in Belmopan who told me she had gotten a message from my husband’s phone saying that the phone was found and where we could pick it up. Up to this day, this is a favorite story to tell. The joy on my children’s faces was priceless.
Teaching and talking and creating a safe space in the home is like preparing the soil and planting a seed. Many times we water these seeds with our tears as we beseech the Lord on behalf of our children. May we be faithful with the time we have with them now.
I always wondered what happened to the Israelites in Judges 2:10. It says that a whole generation grew up who neither knew the Lord or what he had done for Israel. Wow.
Something got lost along the way, maybe the teaching and talking slowly faded away over the years.
“After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them.” Judges 2:10-12
I don’t have it all figured out as a parent, many days I feel like I am failing them. I have learned to rely even more on God’s grace and Holy Spirit’s nudging as I navigate these precious years with my children.
It’s not too late to start. You know your family better than anyone else. Find a way to create your own unique family tradition that will create that space for you to teach and talk.
Ways you can start your family circle:
- Choose a name for your family times
- Choose a day in the week or weekend
- Set a time limit
- Discuss expectations
- Assign or have volunteers for certain responsibilities
- Respect each family member’s input
- Don’t rush, give space for feedback
- No phones allowed
- Mix it up. Game night, Movie night, etc…
- Make it a priority
Want to create a family mission statement?
- Discuss what is a family mission statement and why you want to create one.
- Discuss values or traits that the family thinks are important.
- Write down all the suggestions. What is the recurring theme/values?
- Be sure to create a list that reflects the family and not an individual opinion
- Print it out and frame it.
- Refer to it occasionally