A few times a year our church dedicates babies to the Lord and as a pastor at our church this gives me the opportunity to meet with every family one on one to talk about their spiritual lives. One question I ask is, “What is the biggest obstacle to the spiritual growth of your marriage and family?” I have found that in almost every young family the answer is the same. It’s not infidelity. It’s not abuse. It’s not anger issues.
The biggest struggle most young families have is being too busy!
Almost every young mom and dad are really struggling to balance their work life and their home life. They want to be a good spouse and good parent but they feel like they are pulled in every direction. They are doing so much and yet they feel like they are failing at everything.
I can sure relate to this struggle. Juggling a marriage, busy career, and 4 small children is no easy task. My wife and I both feel overwhelmed on a daily basis.
“How can a family that is struggling to survive raise children that thrive spiritually and emotionally?”
I am not claiming that I have figured this out. I am still in the process of raising young children and identify with the struggle. I want to offer some insight that I have found to be helpful.
Your life needs a rhythm.
Your family needs a rhythm.
Rhythm in music is beats in a pattern. Rhythm in your home is life in a pattern.
Perhaps one of the greatest scriptures on parenting is in Deuteronomy
6:5 “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
I love this scripture because it gives the repetitive nature of family life. The author says we are to repeat it again and again.
It is in the repetition of parenting that we shape our children. It is in these daily and weekly life rhythms that the character of our children is being formed.
Even our best days as parents are filled with guilt and shame. We feel like we should have been more patient, kind, helpful, caring, understanding, calm…and the list goes on. The guilt can eat at our souls and if we let it, can undermine our future parenting.
I want to encourage you as in Deuteronomy 6 to build family rhythms into your home. Make the mundane of your daily life a weekly song that your children learn to thrive in.
I fail daily but here are a few rhythms in our home.
Daily Car Ride To School – It would be easier for me to put them on the bus. It would cause me less stress in the mornings but I choose to wait in carline and drop them off. Why? Well a few reasons. 1) I rode the bus to school and was informed about sex at age 7 by a much older boy (It was misinformation). I want to keep my children from these type experiences. 2) I don’t get much time with them each day. This gives me focused time that they are in close proximity. 3) Every day we quote scripture and pray for one another as they leave the car. We also listen to loud music and dance. Sometimes we cry as well (because someone is pulling hair, touch someone else, forgot their homework, etc…)
Taco Tuesday – Tuesdays can be mundane. Tacos fix that! I think this is more for me than the kids
Wednesday Night Is Church Night – Our kids know that every Wednesday they will go to church. They love it and can’t wait to go
Homework And Rooms Clean Before We Play Outside – Every weekday (except Friday) my children know that before they can play outside or do anything fun they have to do their homework and clean their rooms. This is a clear rule and helps them know that play is important but it comes after work.
Dinner As A Family 3-4 Times A Week – I love dinner table time. We always ask our kids questions that force them to answer with more than one word. We also try to ask questions that help them see how good God was to them that day.
Fun Friday – I think Friday is their favorite day. If they get good marks in school for behavior all week then when we pick them up from school they get to go to the Dollar Tree and pick out ANY one thing they want. It costs us a whopping $4 a week but the kids can’t wait for this trip. We also usually eat something unhealthy and watch a family movie on Fridays.
Worship On Sunday – Since I work as a pastor at a church my kids spend a lot of time at the church building. We are always excited to go to church and the kids love Sunday’s
Bedtime Prayers – Every night we tuck the kids in and pray with them. This might be the most important time of the day. My older girls will refuse to go to bed until I pray with them. No matter how tired I am, this happens every night
Family Walks – I need exercise and the kids need to be outside. My three older kids are now all riding their bikes so this provides a great opportunity to be in nature and talk with the kids.
Individual Time – If you have more than one child you must build into your family rhythms one on one time. I let one child every week sit in my office with me for a couple of hours. I would think this is boring as I require them to be quiet. I let them play a game on my ipad and they just love coming to the church office and hanging with dad. It doesn’t hurt that we always have some leftover goodies from a church event in the office.
I don’t know what beats your family plays but I do know it is the rhythms of family life that will shape your children. I encourage you to make a beautiful song.