Tools to try in 2023

14 December 2022

It took me a long time to realise this, but spiritual parenting is really not very different from the everyday parenting you do all the time - it's just a question of applying the skills and tools you already use to help them meet and know God.

I vividly remember being handed my daughter, firmly wrapped with a little hat on her head, moments after she was born. I was a parent!

Before her birth, I had consumed baby books. To swaddle or not swaddle? When to wean? How to baby-proof your house. How to help babies sleep (I never actually nailed that one). I was prepared! But after just a few weeks, all of that subsided into the day to day reality of parenting a colicky, unpredictable, sleep-resistant tiny human. Just getting through the day with a meal on the table at dinner time was a triumph. And so we muddled through, learning on the job.

Until someone invited me to a parenting course when my daughter was six. I didn’t really want to go, but didn’t want to offend the nice mum who’d invited me. So I rocked up … and discovered it was amazing!  For the first time in my life, I realised that parenting wasn’t just a mishmash of trying hard and vaguely copying what your parents had done. There were skills you could learn. There were tools to help you manage tantrums, ways to coach your kids to build good relationships with their peers, ideas for setting appropriate boundaries, and so much more. I felt like I’d gone from the vaguest of vague parents to someone who was starting to know what she was doing and could even proactively parent.

Here at Parenting for Faith we meet many parents whose heart’s desire is that, above all, their children meet and know God – but no-one’s told them how to do that. Spiritual parenting can feel like a mishmash of trying hard – praying lots, going to church, reading them Bible stories, insisting they join the youth group – and vaguely copying what you saw your parents do, or what others are doing around you.

But there is another way. And it involves simply utilising the parenting tools you already have and use every day. Because, as Deuteronomy 6:4-9 tells us, God’s design for discipling is that it happens in the everyday – the every day of walking down the road together, of dealing with a meltdown, of getting them to bed, of persuading them into school. God’s design is that spiritual parenting is woven in and through our family’s days as naturally as we parent them in crossing the road safely or managing their anxiety.

We call these the five Key Tools: five tools that you can use to proactively disciple your kids of any age as you go about your everyday lives – whatever that looks like for you. The Key Tools are a game changer. Just like you dip into your parenting tool kit when you need to deal with a situation, or plan ahead for your kid’s next steps, you can also have the five key tools in your back pocket to help you help your kid meet and know God.

So this New Year, as you grab a quiet cup of tea and allow your mind to wander to the dreams of what 2023 might bring, why not have a look at these five key tools, and pick one or two to start using in your house? We’ve added a couple of examples for each tool, but for more, just download our free printable below.

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Key Tool #1: Creating Windows.

Parents and carers spend their lives showing their children how to do things. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes just by being themselves. You model how to disagree well as you return a faulty item to a shop and make your case to the owner. You notice your toddler driving her imaginary car, changing gear and checking her mirrors. Because that’s how kids learn – by watching and copying. So if we allow our kids glimpses, little windows, into our lives with God, we help them see what a real life with God looks like, so they can know how to have one of their own.

Some things to try:

  • When you see some faith-based thing that encourages you, share with your kid what poked your heart about it.
  • Where do you and God connect well? A service? A place? A group? Take your kid with you there and let them see you connecting with God.


Key Tool #2: Framing

A huge part of parenting is explaining the world to our children – from what toes are, to how to manage disappointment, to what the government is doing and why. To make proper sense of things, kids also need to know how to see the spiritual side of the world, to see who God is and what he’s doing – when they are at school, in a disaster, when they are lonely and so much more. We can do this as we read the Bible together, as we explain things and as we answer their questions.

Some things to try:

  • Read a Bible story together and wonder together what God was thinking, doing or feeling at different points in the story.
  • When you look at the world, where do you see God at work? Share that with your kid.


Key Tool #3: Unwinding

Part of parenting is helping our kids when they misunderstand something or someone – whether that’s a situation at school, or they’ve taken a dislike to Aunty Maud. Kids get their ideas about God from all sorts of places, and can sometimes misunderstand him and so not want to connect with him. As we spiritually parent, we can help kids develop a full and deep view of God, and as we discover how they see God, we can gently unwind any unbalanced views.

Some things to try:

  • Ask your kid to draw a picture of them and God or ask them which character in their favourite movie God is like. What do you notice about their view of God?
  • As you read Bible stories together, choose some which capture different sides of God’s character: saviour, healer, the jealous God, almighty, comforter etc, so that your child begins to build up a big picture of God.


Key Tool #4: Chat and catch

Such a lot of our parenting energy is spent on helping our children build good and healthy relationships – from sorting out friendship issues to teaching them how to relate to people of all sorts and all ages. And as Christians, the greatest gift we can give to our kids is the confidence and ability to connect with their Father God in prayer: chatting to him about everything and catching what he is communicating to them. Chat and catch is simply a way of encouraging an informal yet deep prayer life that works for all ages.

Some things to try:

  • Chat out loud to God yourself – share what’s on your heart in front of your children in the words you’d usually use with God.
  • Talk about the ways you catch God’s communications. Is it the same for your kids?


Key Tool #5: Surfing the waves

We love encouraging our kids, spotting their passions and talents and helping them pursue their dreams. From buying their first soccer boots, to driving miles each week to band practice, that’s what we do! And we can do that for them spiritually too. God places talents and passions in our kids. Some will last a life time, others just a while as they figure out who they are and what God’s calling them to be. But it’s our joy to jump on board to help them surf the wave of that for as long as it lasts.

Some things to try:

  • What have you already spotted in your child that you think might be from God? Chat to God and ask him for your next steps to help your child surf this wave.
  • Ask ‘If you had a million pounds to help people, what would you do with it and why?’ This might give you some clues about what God is doing in their heart.


If you’d like to dig deeper, look at our free, eight session course that unpacks these ideas –


Tool kit by pilotL39 via Canva Pro