I was talking to my sister’s boyfriend about what first attracted him to playing the guitar. He said it was his dad. As a child, his dad would play the guitar at night, and he would sit there and listen to his dad play until his mom found him and sent him back to bed. In my mind, I could visualize this young boy sitting crouched against the wall with his chin on his knees, mesmerized by the sound of the music. His actual memory could be very different, but it is what has stuck in his mind over the years. It’s an image of his dad that he will always carry with him, and which fostered his own love for the instrument.
If you want children to love reading, then you expose them to books as soon and as often as possible. The fluctuations in your voice gives them a foundation to their own development of language. They are exposed to more and more words which increases their vocabulary. The sound of your voice soothes them and forms happy memories that promote the idea that reading is a good and happy pastime.
As a parent, you seek out ways to help your children succeed in life.
Their happiness is your goal. In sports, school, and friendships, you are right there encouraging them and searching out ways to help them grow.
The same is true if you want your children to love Christ. You have to be the example.
You have to foster that love by your own actions. If you prioritize other activities over going to church, your children will grow up to believe that other sports and personal recreation come before God. If they never see the inside of the Bible, then they won’t know the value that lies within it.
There are so many ways that you can expose your children to their Faith: Commit to going to church on Sunday. Put Bible verses around your house to remind yourself of God’s love outside of Sundays. Use disciplinary tools, like the If-Then Chart and the Blessings Chart, that use scripture to help enforce good actions and discourage bad behavior. Encourage them to start their day in prayer, and establish a family prayer time in the evening before bed. Pray before meals. Place religious books and pictures within their reach. Hang a cross in their bedroom as a physical daily reminder of Christ’s love. You don’t have to do everything at once. Start by picking one new habit to work on each month and then add on something new.
To foster that love, you must also choose to foster that love for Christ within yourself.
Make quiet prayer time with Jesus a priority. Set boundaries around it. Even when they are young you can let your children know that you are having some prayer time/talking with Jesus, and that they need to try to be quiet. Take part in a Bible study. Work on growing in virtue – you could make a point of working on a new virtue each month. Make it a point to put God first in your life. Your family will start to see a difference.
As you lead your children to Christ, the hardest part will be those moments when it feels like nothing you are trying to teach and instill in them is taking root.
Your kids will still fight, there will still be struggles over obedience, and there may even be outright rebellion to all that you have worked so hard to teach them. In those times, trust that God is using you as the tool to work on their hearts, even though you may not see the work being done. Continue to pray for your children, and be the example of Christ’s love in their lives.
Not quite sure how to start to put God first in your life so that you can lead your children well? I encourage you to check out Fuel Your Faith Foundation to help you start off strong.