Crying is something I thought was in my past, however, as I sit here wiping away tears I am convinced that my life will continue to have plenty of these moments in it. Some people can evaluate tears as “tears of Joy” or “tears of sorrow” and, admittedly, I have moments where it is really clear where my tears come from and what emotion they are presenting. Most of the times when I am crying over parenting mistakes and kid frustrations I chalk the tears up to “tears of regret”. Tonight though, they aren’t tears of regret. They also aren’t joyful or sorrowful. Tonight they are simply neutral “tears of responsibility“. I remember these from my late nights working on college papers and research projects – those tears just hurt. Responsibility with kids hurts and hopes at the same time.
If you want the pretty face of scripture with kids, join me at breakfast and bedtime when we read a couple chapters in each sitting and talk about how it relates to our lives and what we are going through. I can muster up example situations that we have all healed from and we can see how this information would have changed our outcome. That is the pretty face. That is the face I want you to see and think of when you think of me as a dad. It is true – in the Ramey family, scripture reading and study is a HUGE part of our day. Somedays I honestly think we spend too much time on it. I think to myself “Can a 3 and 8 year old even understand the weight of Job or the imagery of Daniel? Even if I explain – is this a waste?” I absolutely remember the thoughts and prayers while traveling through Deuteronomy: “God… even the 10 commandments seem too heavy for these kids to understand, help them to understand and apply this.”
Tonight my daughter refused to eat. There was Mac & Cheese on the table and that is all she wanted, so she refused to eat the grilled chicken. I told her that she could only have the Mac & Cheese if she ate a certain amount of grilled chicken. The next 50 minutes were some of the most frustrating minutes in my parenting experience. As I scraped all of the Mac & Cheese into the trash and instructed Bristol to go to her room I thought: “I may instill in her the value of eating healthy, but at what relational cost?”
Bristol remembers everything. She still remembers and comments about the time I forced her to walk out into the rain to get into the car because my hands were full and I couldn’t carry her. She brings it up every time it rains and I think Satan loves to remind me of that one any chance he gets. I knew, as she marched up the stairs to her room tonight, that I would hear about this story every time grilled chicken was served for the rest of my life. Maybe, hopefully, it will become a funny story when Bristol is a teenager and possibly a connection moment when she has her own 3 year old. Over the next 5 years though, I am doomed to feel pain in the story.
15 minutes after I scraped that first spoonful of Mac & Cheese into the garbage I had the kitchen completely clean and I knew I had to follow up and move on with Bristol, so I walked slowly up the stairs. Half way up I heard her tears continuing to flow. I was devastated, but I knew I couldn’t just crumble in front of her. She needed to learn the truth that eating healthy for energy is more important than eating for pleasure. She also needed to solidify respect for her parents.
I turned the corner into her bed room and through her tears she cry-spoke the following: “it – is – not – going – well – for – me, I – want – to – go – back – and – do – what – you – say!”
We hugged and talked about what her statement meant, I ran her bath and got her in it and then I escaped to my desk where I began to cry. Tears of responsibility. My daughter learned Deuteronomy tonight and I hated that I had to teach it to her. Scripture became real for Bristol and a part of me wished it wouldn’t have had to.
Responsibility is humbling, and it is painful sometimes – but we have it and there is nothing we can do to avoid that. Kids need us to show up and teach them the Word of God so they will know how to respond when they have messed up. More than that, teaching them scripture teaches them boundaries. These boundaries they learn will likely keep them safe as they start making their own, independent, decisions in the future.
It isn’t easy, it does consume time, they don’t always seem to understand… then they do.
So how do you start? I suggest that you make scripture a part of a natural routine. Here are a few great times to work in scripture:
- Bed time routine – especially if you are already doing some reading as a part of this. Depending on age, you may want to use a resource like “Jesus Storybook Bible” or another children’s Bible.
- Meal time routine – Maybe this is dinner or breakfast (or lunch, if you homeschool). Meal times lend themselves to a focused time and adding in scripture reading to this helps to reinforce meal time as a “family time”.
- After school routine – Although I have never tried this, incorporating scripture reading into an after school chore/homework routine might be the best place for you to incorporate this. Make sure you don’t frame reading the Bible as a “chore” or “homework” though.
Focus on reading, don’t stress about application or pushing your children to apply what you read. The Holy Spirit is pretty well equipped to help your kids apply what they are reading and hearing.
Responsibility is hard – but you can do it!