Carrie Nieuwhof, in Parenting Beyond Your Capacity, writes:
“Every family has a rhythm. You don’t have to intend to have one. You don’t have to plan one. We all end up with one. As we go from day to day, we establish and shape a rhythm that in turn shapes our kids.”
My kids are now adults and building their own rhythms and patterns of living, but sometimes I wonder what they thought was important to our family when they were growing up. What did our daily routines and conversations reveal about what mattered most to our family? I didn’t think to ask myself these questions when our kids were in the house. Life was busy and full.
One thing is for sure, my family had a pattern of living that communicated what was most important to our kids. Yours does too. This is your family’s rhythm.
Rhythms are simply how we manage and allocate our time. They are repeated patterns of behavior. The busier our lives, the more we lean into our rhythms because they make life easier.
As your kids watch your rhythms – how you use and structure your time – what would they say about the things that are important to you? This isn’t a guilt thing or a judgment thing, it’s an awareness thing. Because these rhythms carry great power. “The things that become part of the daily rhythm are the things our families will come to believe are most important.” (page 122, Carrie Nieuwhof)
What ultimately matters in the lives of your kids?
As our children grow, we often wonder if they’re developing in healthy ways. Do they have what they need? Are they hitting the appropriate milestones?
As kids grow older, we wonder about the friends they choose. Will they do well in school? Will they survive the decisions they make? What will they do for a profession? Will they marry or have children? We devote a lot of mental energy to these kinds of questions.
Ultimately, there’s only one thing that will really matter in our kids’ lives–their relationship with God. And our family rhythms play a role in shaping that relationship.
When I was growing up, my family had a set of faith rhythms. We went to church, prayed at dinner, celebrated Advent and we all volunteered regularly. When I became a parent, these are the things I did with my kids too. The rhythm carried on. (See, I told you those rhythms carried power.)
But when I had children of my own, I found that there were some aspects missing from the rhythms I carried from childhood. For instance, in my family of origin, we did not talk about how we actually experienced God and His creation. I know my parents prayed for me, but we didn’t pray together away from the dinner table. Without really thinking about it, I carried these same patterns into my own family. But when I became AWARE of those rhythms (or lack thereof), I made some changes. I still remember the night when my daughter was in 6th grade, laying in her bed, distraught and hurting, and I asked if I could pray with and for her. The moment was awkward. Creating something new often is awkward at first. But we did it and then we continued doing it. A new rhythm was born.
Inviting God Into Our Family Rhythms
It’s moving fast.
We will never have more of it that we already have.
The issue is not how do we get more,
but how do we become more intentional about what we have?
– Carrie Nieuwhof, Parenting Beyond Your Capacity
For many of us, a good first step is practicing awareness and taking advantage of the family time we already have. In this way, we can use our current rhythms to create space for conversations about God. We can use everyday discussions to communicate that being loved by God and loving God are what matters most.
Here are some examples of what this initial change might look like:
- Voicing your awe of God as you see and experience nature.
- Acknowledging your joy for God as you see a natural talent express itself in your child.
- Admitting your need to take a few minutes alone to talk with God when you feel angry or frustrated.
- Inviting your kids to ask questions about God. You don’t need all the answers. Creating a safe space for kids to voice their doubts is powerful.
- Inviting your kids to pray with you at dinner, in the car, at bedtime, or via text.
- Reading the Jesus Storybook Bible together. This well-written, theologically accurate narrative is great for the whole family.
Whether or not you feel equipped to be the primary influencer of your child’s faith, you are. And while you might not be sure what your next step is in creating rhythms that help your kids know that a relationship with God is what matters most, remember that you are not alone on this journey. God walks with us and with our kids. He can absolutely be trusted. Ask Him to equip and empower you and your family to take your next steps in creating rhythms that help your kids know in their hearts what matters most.
Finally, here are a few resources to help you in your parenting journey:
Parenting Beyond Your Capacity by Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof
This book provides practical, helpful information to help parents take their first or next steps toward more intentional parenting. Good for parents with kids of any age.
Spiritual Parenting by Michelle Anthony
This book introduces the concept that parents are, by the power of God’s Spirit, to obey and depend on God to create an environment God can use to call their children to Him. From my perspective, this book is most helpful for parents of elementary and younger kids.
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
This theologically correct narrative will help all ages understand the one story that is being told in the Bible in a way that engages the heart.