The Darndest Things My Kids Say but I Won’t Share
My two kids and I will often sing together on the way to their school. There is a song I made up that asks Jesus to watch over us, forgive us and asks Him in our heart. The last verse before we say amen is done in sections where I sing, “Holy Spirit” and my kids sing, “Fill me up!” These are treasured times that uplift me as a father and make me feel like I have done something right.
Those are the stories I would normally share on social media. What I don’t usually share are the days where they tell me, “I don’t wanna sing to Jesus” or “I don’t want to pray for dinner.” These moments deflate my sense of pride in my children and expose a self-perceived weakness in my parenting system – which is my thoughts that, “I must be doing something wrong” and “What if they are like this when they are older?”
In the midst of walking out God’s sentence for my own life, I am also in charge of cultivating the ground for my children to walk out God’s sentence for their lives. This can prove to be difficult and sometimes infuriating work. The other night, for example, after successfully praying over dozens of meals in a row, my two-year-old decided to take a stand against prayer at the dinner table. He shook his head and refused to eat if he had to pray first.
As a parent, am I supposed to move on, let him eat without prayer and ignore this incident or give in to the demands of a two-year-old who refuses to pray to the God that loves Him?
As I write this, I know what I want to do – which is demand a prayer and leave him dinnerless until He recognizes His creator. However, I know this is not what Jesus would do. In fact, it’s not even what I do.
There have been plenty of times as a born again spirit filled believer that I didn’t pray for my food, before bed or had faith in the prayers that I actually spoke. I think, “What if Jesus demanded I go hungry unless I pray?” or “What if God ridiculed and mocked me for any disobedience?” I’m thankful He doesn’t and I am also thankful the Holy Spirit dwells within me to remind me of my own faults as I get frustrated with the transgressions of my children.
This isn’t just about prayer though. Worship, Bible reading or fellowship could all have accounts of my children saying and doing things that go against what we know is right for them. This past Sunday, my daughter kicked and screamed as a children’s ministry worker had to pull her of my shoulder like Velcro because she didn’t want to go inside the room designed for her worship. She violently screamed and cried, “NO!” I felt saddened when watching her reaction to being dropped off but also couldn’t give into those emotions and miss out on my own valuable time worshipping the Father.
My kids sometimes don’t listen when we read Bible stories or have even turn and run down the hall to get away from hearing them. My kids sometimes love to watch and sing to the songs on the Bethel Kids YouTube channel, but can also sometimes be heard saying, “I already seen those, I don’t want to watch them again.”
What is a parent – who is worried about the eternal lives and earthly consequences of living a life without Jesus to do when things like this happen? The answer many of us might give is to say, “They are young” and “They will grow out of it.” That may be partially true, but not ever correcting their behavior will give them a green light to continually place God aside to do what they want to do. God has called us to a life of sacrifice. I know my three-year-old has no idea what how to do that yet because sometimes I am still unable to always live that way.
There are times I don’t want to go to church or have fellowship with my Christian friends. There are also times I would rather watch TV than read my Bible. I sometimes act just like my kids act. Yet, I know I am saved and know I am pursuing God’s sentence for my life. My kids are simply walking out a similar relationship with God. I also know I can’t make them love God or follow Jesus no matter how much I try. It’s scary to realize that as a parent that has been saved and knows what a life outside of Christ looks like. I want to protect them.
Thankfully, even though it doesn’t always look pretty, I am continually hopeful to raise my children to know God, have faith in Christ and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. I am encouraged by verses like the ones below that declare the results I should expect because of my faith in God and my desire to continually share the lessons of God’s word with my children.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words that I give you today. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you’re at home or away, when you lie down or get up. Write them down, and tie them around your wrist, and wear them as headbands as a reminder. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:5-9
People don’t light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way let your light shine in front of people. Then they will see the good that you do and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:15-16
Parents, do not anger your children, but rear them in the discipline and in the teaching of Our Lord. Ephesians 6:4
I know this is a process. I know that if my kids refuse to sing or pray one day that their behavior does not condemn them to a life without Christ, however, it is a reminder to my wife and I that they do need Him. We all do. I need to reflect my own relationship with Christ so that they will do what God calls them to do. A life without Christ where a person is free to do whatever they want does will not be filled with joy, peace or hope. Right now, my kids say, “I don’t want to” more than they say yes to me, but the only yes that matters to me is the one where they say yes to Jesus.
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