Discipling our kids at home can feel like a daunting task, if not an impossible one, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. In fact, God’s word is clear that it is our responsibility to raise our children in the way of the Lord.
Deuteronomy 6:6-8 says, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
This is imploring us to teach our children and to live out our faith during every moment of our lives, to never forget that we are the teachers of our children when it comes to the ways of the Lord. The church is meant to come alongside us as we walk this road of discipleship, but we are the primary people in our children’s lives.
How do we do this? What, practically, does this look like?
When we talk about the discipleship of our children, there is one thing that must come first. Without this one thing, discipleship will always fall flat. What is this one thing? What is so important that we have to talk about it first?
Making sure our children feel loved, seen, heard, and valued is the most important step toward discipleship. As parents, we need to be intentional when it comes to making sure that we are communicating our love for them well.
Even if you think you are loving them, make sure they FEEL the love. Each of us gives and receives love differently, even our children. There is a great post about the Love Languages of Kids that talks about the different languages and how to use them with your children if you aren’t sure which love language your child speaks.
It is easy to forget that our children are not just smaller versions of us. If you have six children like my wife and I do, then you will have six different languages and personalities to navigate. How you love one or spend time with one might not work for the others. In fact, it absolutely won’t work.
We have one child who always seeks out what they need. Even now, as a teenager, he still comes and hugs us and is affectionate. While we have another child who needs to be sought out. We have to be much more intentional with her.
Our youngest son tends to fall through the cracks. We were at family camp last summer when I realized that this was happening. We are now very intentional about making sure he knows we see him, to the point that I will sit in front of him, take his little face in my hands, and say, “I see you.” As I am typing this, my eyes are filling with tears, thinking about these moments.
Here are some practical ideas for showing love and also how we do things in our house.
Be Excited About What They Are Excited About
It may be hard to be excited about everything all of our kids are excited about, but it is imperative. Kids need us to be fully invested in their lives and their interests. We have a daughter who is into crafts, so when she wants to do a project or needs supplies for a new craft, we make it happen. We also choose to be excited about it.
Showing genuine interest in what your kids are interested in will help them feel valued and pave the way for discipleship as they grow. As parents, we are the first picture of God for our kids, and we have an amazing, loving God who is deeply invested and interested in us. This is how we should be with our children if we want to guide them to Jesus.
Be Extra Thoughtful and Intentional as Parents
Have you heard that saying, “that was a little extra?” meaning “you went a little over the top.” Well, as parents, there is no such thing as over the top. Being extra should be our default. Even when we aren’t trying, we should still just fall into being extra.
We have such a short time with our children, and we need to maximize every moment. One thing I do with my kids is birthday dates. On their birthday, they get to pick the restaurant, and we go have one on one time. I take the opportunity to ask them questions and to get a glimpse into their hearts. It is also a time that they see how important they are to me and how much they are valued as my child and a child of God.
One thing I am mindful of as a pastor is the potential this job has to take me away from my family and build resentment in my children. That is why we are intentional about serving together as a family. It isn’t always me leaving them behind. I take them on visits to hospitals (pre-Covid), they come to weddings, come with me to the church, and anything else that is appropriate for them to attend.
There are also many ways we encourage our children to serve the community around them. One thing we pray every day on the way to school is that we would add value to someone’s life that day.
We also teach our children to notice things around them, such as the needs of others if someone is hurting and in need of a friend or anything else that they may see. We do a lot of things in secret, like providing shoes or other needs of our neighbors and community. Ding, dong, ditch is our favorite way to make deliveries!
Our desire is that they not only hear or read the Word of God, but they are able to see the Word of God lived out in our lives.
Don’t Be Super Restrictive
As a parent, I am not overly restrictive. Meaning we don’t make rules on top of rules, but we are restrictive when it comes to how they treat each other. We don’t tolerate sibling fighting, disrespecting each other, or being generally hateful.
I also draw a firm line when it comes to them disrespecting their mother. This is not allowed at any time.
But don’t worry, we do have some family rules.
- Do YOUR Best
- Have Fun
- Everyday Add Value to Someone Else
- Apologize when necessary
- Forgive quickly
- Assume the Best
- Be grateful
Be Honest/Don’t Hide Tragedy
An important part of discipleship is honesty with our kids. Hiding tragedy from our children is not a biblical idea. As Christians, we know that troubles and tragedy will come.
John 16:33 says, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Discipling our kids requires us to not hide troubles from them but to face them head-on with them. Teaching them to face tragedy, hurt, and heartache in a Christ-centered way is imperative to the growth of their faith. Leaning into Jesus when trouble strikes is invaluable to our young disciples.
Let the Church Come Alongside You
Attending church and utilizing programming such as Grace K!DS and GSM is a great way to reinforce the discipleship you are already doing at home. There are resources available through the church that can help you throughout the week at home.
- Secret Sauce – This is a tool that is published every two months and is available for digital download or a hard copy. There are daily activities to go along with Grace K!DS monthly Bible verse as well as Bible reading and memory activities. Pick one up at your campus or download it now!
- New City Catechism – Learning the foundational tenets of the faith is imperative. That is why we love the New City Catechism! This is available as an app or a book! There is also a kids version that is easier for young ones to understand.
- Phase Podcast – This podcast walks parents through each phase of their child’s development. We talk about what to expect, resources, games, jobs they can do, and how to thrive in this phase and love where God has you and your child.
- This Blog – The Grace K!DS blog is full of resources, inspiration, and biblical truth to help you as you disciple your kids.
Looking for a community or someone to grab coffee with who is in a similar life season? We’d love to connect with you and get to know you better! Below you will find a few people that can’t wait to meet you, shoot us an email so we can make a plan!
Tyler OJ Campus
Teresa Ator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bethanie Tayler: email@example.com
Tyler UB Campus
Max Heller: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chrisleigh Heller: email@example.com
Molly Pontius: firstname.lastname@example.org
Debra Kirby: email@example.com