Parenting for Faith in a post-pandemic world
These are the notes for the seminar Rachel gave at United Breaks Out on Friday 31st July 2020
This is a weird season! The crisis has hit, and now we’re beginning to emerge into our next new temporary normal. How do we help our kids meet and know God in this season as they transition from lockdown bacl into the world, and help them see where God is in it all?
Whatever we do, this isn’t about how we can teach our kids more about God. It’s about how we can help them to become God-connected: how we can help them access God’s love, guidance and healing and know his voice. We want them to grow beyond being God-smart, into God-connected.
One of the prime things God gives children is us: the people who parent and care for them. Because whether you know it or not, you have been doing loads of things to help your kids meet and know God in this season. We are one of the main influences on our kids as they see how we meet and know God. So be encouraged! You are perfectly positioned to help your kids meet and know God in this next season.
Today we’re looking at five things we can do in this temporary mid-ground.
Maintain a significant emotional connection with your kids
The emotional connection between parents and carers and kids is so important when you are parenting for faith. When the connection is strong, children are more open to being influenced by their parents and carers because they are in a safe space where they know they are loved. It’s not just being in general proximity: there’s a difference between just being around someone and feeling connected to them. Connection is about caring for each other’s hearts and mutually delighting in each other.
For some of us lockdown has meant we’ve built strong connection with our kids; for others of us lockdown has been about survival. But whatever your experience, finding ways to build and maintain connection with your kids will help them grow in faith as we emerge out of lockdown and life becomes bigger again. Come up with a plan about how to keep that growth when everything restarts again. It can be as simple as asking good questions, smiling when they come in the room or taking an extra ten minutes at bedtime.
Create windows into your transition back out into the world
Everything’s changing again! We’re all moving out of our bubbles into something new. Change is hard for everyone, including children. But if your children can see how you are feeling and how you are handling change and where God fits into that, then they get ideas of how to handle it themselves. By showing them what this next season feels for you, you are giving them an amazing gift: windows into how God works in real life that helps them do it themselves.
For more about the idea of creating windows, see here.
Facilitate their God-connection
It is so important for our kids to learn a pattern of prayer that works for them so they can connect directly to God. We can often give our children lots of group experiences of connecting with God – we pray together at bedtimes and mealtimes, we do church together, we worship together. When their only experience of talkilng to God is as part of a group, this makes it hard for them to know how to pray one to one, just them and God.
We want them to know the joy of chatting one to one with God, catching his voice and chatting back, talking about everything and anything. One way to get them started on this is to create space where you side-by-side chat with God. You can give ideas or prompts for ideas to chat to God about, like why don’t you tell God something you’ll miss about lockdown, or tell him about your favourite food. Direct their conversation directly to him rather than being tempted to do it for them. Help them be comfortable with sharing the big stuff and the small stuff with God and be ready to catch his communication with them too, however he does that.
For more about chat and catch, see here.
Help them find their purpose
Lockdown has switched many of us into a self-focussed survival mode. Now we’re coming out, we want to encourage our kids of whatever age to understand their role and purpose moving forward. We won’t go into this here, because we’re looking at that in two more seminars at or after United Breaks Out: one on helping kids find purpose in this next season, and another, to be released later in the summer, on how to get them excited about mission and evangelism.
Find your next steps
And finally, take a moment to ponder and see what is next for your family and for your child. What is the next step for my child spiritually and how can I help them take it? This is what spiritual parenting is: finding your next steps. Be creative, find the next step for you and for your kids. Parentingforfaith.org has so many resources to help you find your next steps. We have a free online course which you can do alone or with a group; five ‘key tools’ to help you help your kids on their journey; and hundreds of posts covering every sort of topic, whether you are a parent or a church leader.
But be encouraged: you, on your journey just as you are, are God’s gift to your children, to help them see, meet and know God in their lives. You’ve got this!