Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Child Training Tuesday: Relay Parenting

If you have a husband(or a wife) and at least one child, you may find yourself in the ever famous "Parent Relay." Unlike most relay races that happen on a Saturday at the local track and field, this one happens everyday in most American homes. Everyone wakes up bright and early, eats breakfast and then....you're off! Work, meetings, Bible study, the gym, play dates, preschool, homeschool, church, piano, ballet, soccer, prayer meetings, dinner, homework, bath and bedtime. Mom has Bible study tonight, so she can only go to ballet, Dad will have to cover piano and soccer. Then Mom will race home, so Dad can make the prayer meeting later tonight at church. Mom will handle bath and bed and Dad will pick up something to eat, because no one had time to actually make supper.
Are you exhausted? I am just reading this! Now, this may be a bit exaggerated, but haven't we all found ourselves in this state of constantly running the relay, except instead of making actual progress, we find ourselves in a revolving door? There are certain life circumstances that make it very difficult for families to "stay together" at all times of the day. Starting with the fact that most fathers have to work outside the home, as do many mothers. But by no means is this a reason to keep up the aimless running.

These are some ways that we have found to help keep us centered as a family.

1. Gather at the dinner table. This is my favorite time of the day, because we all get to stop and connect. We have the tradition at our table to ask everyone: "What was the best part of your day?" "What was your frustration today?" This opens up great discussion for us to share outloud and teach our boys how to express what has happened during their day. We also get to talk about constructive ways to handle our frustrations, disappointments and tough moments. We end our day on the same page and this time together puts life into each of us. We also plan silly dinner, fancey dinner and picnics to make this time fun for the whole family.

2. Family worship. This usually takes place for us after dinner and before bed. Wesley reads the Bible and we talk about the verses. Then each of us has the opportunity to pray. We have also used this time for the boys to share their memory work. They get very excited that they get to have a special part in family worship. Next up on our list is learning hymns. There is great Biblical doctrine in hymns and I want my boys to know them as they grow up.

3. Telephone talk time. We have scheduled two different times in the day that Wesley calls to check in with us. The boys and I talk to him and he stays connected with us and what we are doing. This has really helped the boys to understand that mommy and daddy are on the same page. I am always referring to Wesley as our leader and this is a great way for him to "be a part of our day" by calling and spending time talking with each of us. This also puts fuel in both of our tanks as we face different pressures at home and work.

4. Prayer. Each decision we make must be covered in prayer. Rick Warrens said, "If you have not prayed about something, then you are doing it on your own." I am guilty of this~I think that a decision is not too big, so I just act on it and make the decision that looks best from where I'm sitting. The problem is that I do not have all the information. God does, so as a couple and family, we need to be seeking His direction and His plan for us, even for the smallest things.

5. Saying "no". This may seem like an obvious step to take, but how many of us actually take it? Say no to the birthday party, no to the movie with friends, no to helping out an extra day with the project, no to the distractions that pull us away both mentally and physically. We must say "yes" to God and "no" to those things He says are not best for us.
Parenting is hard work and doing it God's way is a huge commitment. We must be a united team with God, so we do it well. My prayer for all of us is that we will take time to build up reserves in God's word and seek His direction for our families.

At this time in a world, I believe it is especially important to be commited to doing things God's way. It will more than likely become more difficult for us to stand for Truth, but we have no other option as follower's of Jesus Christ. The family unit needs to find it's strength in God alone, so they will not be torn down by the falsehood of the world. In the end, it will be our families strong thread of trust in God that will bind us together. It is our job as parents to teach our children what it means to live sold out for Christ. How does this look in our homes? A good first step is to be a family that stays together, because they choose only those things that honor God with their time, talents and resources. This will be the kind of lasting legacy our children will remember their entire lives.

I believe that this happens simply by sacrifice. So, let us ask ourselves where am I sacrificing? What can be put aside so I am set apart for Christ alone? Challenge yourself to take one step to keeping your family closer together this next week.


Willow said...

Makes me think of a remark that I read in Mission to Motherhood. The author was reflecting on how Jesus chose to teach his disciples. It seems what Jesus thought was most effective in training and teaching his disciples was to just "be" with them. They were together all the time.

And that is the one thing that a family today must keep in mind, struggle even, for.

What priceless teaching occurs when we choose not to send our kids all over the place for them to be taught, but instead accept the responsibility and privilege God has give me and my husband and do much of it ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mel for penning these thoughts...its an encouragement! And to know there are others out there with the same goals and mindsets for raising our children. Its hard, its time-consuming and its not always what "we want" to do...but it is so, so worth it!! Kirsti

Peggy said...

Hello Melissa,
You may add the simple woman button just like you have your pictures here. Go to my blog and highlight the button with your mouse and save it to your documents and then find it when you post or to your sidebar. Sorry to post to your comment, but wanted to get back to you.
Hope this helps!
the simple woman

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