Delighting in Your Children

Toddler boy and his mother watering plants in the garden

Teach Your Child to Pray

When prayer is a natural part of your day-to-day routine, your kids learn the value of going to God with little things as well as the big things.

  • Help your kids see things around them as visual aids to prompt prayer. If you're driving and see an ambulance speeding down the street, ask your kids to pray for the person being treated.
  • Pray in a conversational way. Instead of saying a formal prayer at meals and bedtime, speak to God as a friend. Use simple, conversational language. Kids will think, I can do that. They will be more likely to talk to God in their own way.
  • Use Bible verses. Have your kids ever said, "I don't know what to say when I pray?" Show them verses that will give them ideas. For example, if they're having a hard time in math, they can use Philippians 4:13 to jump-start their conversation with God.

"Lord, thank You that I can do all things (even my math homework) because You give me strength."

Listen to Your Child

A mom was preparing dinner when her little boy, Matt, asked, "Are you listening, Mommy?"

"Sure," his mom said as she turned off the mixer and started setting the table.

Matt stopped her. He put his hands on her cheeks and said, "But Mommy, would you listen with your face?"

Many of us are like that mother. When I realized how deficient I was in this area, I made listening one of my goals. I haven't arrived, but I have discovered some ways to improve:

Make eye contact and pay attention to your child's words, feelings and body language.

Start small. Instead of aiming to listen to your child or husband for an hour, start with a goal of five minutes a day.

Be available to talk at odd times, day and night.

Be willing to talk about sensitive subjects without overreacting. When you overreact to what your kids share, they tend to clam up and not tell you anything significant.

Ask open-ended questions. They encourage thought and communication, and they don't have a right or wrong answer.

Practice active listening. Active listening doesn't judge everything that comes out of your child's mouth. Instead of saying, "I don't know why you feel so angry," say, "It sounds like you're mad and hurt. I understand that." Let your child know he's heard before you offer a solution.

Silently pray for your child while she's talking about a problematic situation or conflict. Ask God to give you wisdom and show you how to respond.

Delight in Your Child's Wonder

Have you ever responded with "later" to one of your kid's discoveries? Has your sense of wonder faded between the pages of your planner or been replaced by practicality and busyness? Here are some ways to stir up your wonder:

  • Blow bubbles. Mix liquid dishwashing soap and one teaspoon of glycerin. Throw a bubble-blowing blast with your children using a straw, colander, plastic six-pack cola rings and other utensils.
  • Create a backyard wildlife habitat. Put a bird feeder and birdbath in your backyard or on the balcony. Let your child plant flowers that attract butterflies. Checkout a library book to identify the winged friends that visit your sanctuary.
  • Tell the temperature cricket-style. Count a cricket's chirps for 15 seconds. Add 40 to that number to find out the temperature. (It's good math practice, too.) Your kids will think you are very clever!
  • Watch a sunset. Sit on a big quilt in the yard and notice how every few minutes the colors of the sky change. Drink hot chocolate or cider after you come in and talk about what you saw.
  • Catch a falling star. Get a constellation map for the current season from a local planetarium. Choose a clear, moonless night. Locate the North Star, Big Dipper and Orion. Binoculars or a telescope are nice but not necessary. You might see a surprise or two, like a shooting star or a whole meteor shower.
Adapted from The Mom You're Meant to Be by Cheri Fuller (Focus on the Family/Tyndale House, 2003). Used by permission.