This past January, my church did a series called Reset The Table.
It was about changing the trajectory of your family relationships in this new year by ‘getting a fresh start with the ones you love’. The series touched on 6 topics and surprisingly the topic that impacted me the most was Reset Family Discipleship. The premise of the message was that when the gospel impacts you individually, it overflows into the live of others, especially those we’re closest to such as our children.
The sermon went on to state that you are making disciples of your children, so what you are discipling them toward? What are you ultimately communicating to them?
Although I do not have children nor am I currently trying to have children, I am acutely aware that my current choices will one day impact them.
I’ve grown to realize that preparing for parenthood shouldn’t start the moment I find out I’m pregnant, but that it should start now, before I have children. Because who I am today will effect the type of mother I will be. So, I ask myself, what type of parent do I ultimately want to be? What do I want to exemplify? Therefore, what changes do I need to make now?
I talked about this sermon with Zach and he also took it to heart. We both agree that if we begin honing in on bad habits and establishing good ones before children, it’ll be easier to carry those over into parenthood. This applies to all attitudes, words, and actions. So, together we came up with a small list of things we want to stop and start now before children:
1.Using our phones past 6 pm. I talked more in-depth about this in this post, but we want our time after dinner to be ‘family time’ where we read, watch a movie, or play a board game. We want to set the example that technology isn’t always necessary and that being intentionally together is.
2. Speaking of which, no more phones at the dining table. This time should be used to talk and learn more about the others.
3. Unkind words. My husband and I sometimes like to call each other silly names, but I’ve often stopped in my tracks and wondered if I’d want my children calling each other ‘a dodo head’. It seems so innocent, but kid’s brains are sponges and I don’t want them to think name-calling is funny.
4. Negative self-talk. How often have you said out loud to yourself or your spouse that you feel stupid or fat or undesirable? You might not mean it, but you say it and your kids will hear it and we don’t ever want them to doubt their worth. We want to communicate that they are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God, but that starts with us.
1.Dinner all together at the table at least 1 night per week. Trust me, I wish it could be more but Zach works until 7:30 pm, 3 days per week so dinner together those nights isn’t happening. And I’m sure when we have kids they will have after school activities on the other nights of the week. But something that is super important to us is gathering around the family table. There are statistics that say if a family has dinner all together at least 1 night per week it will drastically reduce the chances that the kids drop out of school, do drugs, or go to jail. As a result of this new habit, Zach and I are making sure to have at least 1 dinner together at the table per week.
2. Ask highs and lows at every dinner. Something my small group does at the beginning of every meeting is ask each person to state their ‘high’ and ‘low’ of the week. It allows us to have a glimpse into the other person’s life as well as praise and pray along with them. Zach and I are still getting into this habit, but we’ve enjoyed hearing about the other person’s day when we do remember to ask.
3. Love the kid you have and not the one you want. I’ve heard conversations about parents who are disappointed because their son doesn’t want to play football but instead wants to read all day or how their daughter would rather play with legos than play dress-up. News flash! Your kid isn’t a miniature you. They are uniquely made by God and therefore have their own interests. As parents we want to meet them where they’re at and cater our discipling toward each child. If you learn to love what your children love, you will likely be able to weave more conversations about God into their activities. The same goes for Zach and I now – what does Zach love to do and how can I show him I love him by participating?
4. Be intentional/consistent/diligent in our discipleship. We want to look for ways to bring the conversation about God into every day moments with our children – on car rides, before bed, while coloring or playing catch. There is always an opportunity, we just need to keep our eyes open for it. For Zach and I, this isn’t something we necessarily need to start but instead want to continue and be consistent in. Every week we have a Weekly Marriage Meeting, which is an intentional time of discipleship, but when he is home during the week we tend to have conversations centered around what the Lord is teaching us.
This message really impacted me more than I would have assumed, but I’m thankful for the Lord’s teaching through it and the conversation that resulted. If and when we do have children, I want to disciple them well, but that starts with learning how now.