You don’t become a believer automatically
The period when your children are still small can be one of the richest times of your life. Yet living together in a family is not always easy. Not for the parents, but also not for the children.
Things often go wrong in education. No matter how well you mean it as a parent, you never start completely from “a neutral position”. You yourself are also the product of the education you received from your parents. And they from their parents’.
My mother grew up on the water, on a ship and was never able to take sports or music lessons because they always sailed around the Netherlands in their boat. She thought that was a huge loss. That’s why she wanted her children to be able to take sports and music lessons, and that happened. All taking guitar lessons! And so we have taught our children that sports and music are important, and the girls can enjoy playing the drums and flute, football and horse riding.
Education, and certainly religious education, does not happen automatically. It requires deliberate choices and the development of certain skills. In a number of areas it is rowing against the current of the times. It also requires constant reflection: what is essential, what do we want to achieve, and how do we shape it?
When Martin and I got married, we consciously talked about having children and what we wanted to give them for their lives. What are our goals for our children and where do we want them to be when they turn 18? And especially how do they get to know and experience God in their lives?
One of the things we found very important was passing on our own faith stories, our own adventures and miracles that we experienced with God. As adults, we often forget to take our children with us in this faith adventure, but you have so much to offer and you have already seen so much of God that that is precisely what you can easily pass on. Telling stories while you’re in the car, or all together on the couch in the evening. Take those moments and inspire your children.
Or write down your faith stories and miracles that you have experienced in a “Family Story Notebook”. So nice to do and to read and add to again and again!
That reminds me of what it says in Deuteronomy 4:9: ‘… that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen, nor do they depart from your heart as long as you live: make them known to your children and your children’s children .’
Nothing worth having
you just arrive!
In the family, children learn to develop their identity, their values and norms. From there, children can cope with society. But God has added other responsibilities to the family. It is so beautifully described in Deuteronomy 6:5-7: ‘ You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. What I command you today shall be in your heart, and you shall teach it to your children, and you shall speak of it when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.”
Even though the church offers many things to children, the family remains the most intimate community of faith, where you have the best chance of reaching the hearts of the children. Parents have the first responsibility to lead their children to Jesus.
We are often already so busy with work and activities, with school or the household. Life pulls at us, so many obligations. And yet I would like to call on you to make time and attention and to consciously focus on the religious life of your own children, grandchildren or the children around you. That is your top priority. There are so many things you can do, there are cool children’s camps, children’s choirs, dance groups, fun songs, beautiful diaries…
Ingeborg couldn’t wait to go to children’s camp with us. She was 3 years old, energetic and smart when she went to camp with us with 100 kids aged 10-12. And who was standing in the middle, central among all the girls who were going to perform a dance? Exactly, our 3-year-old Ingeborg performing all the moves and steps perfectly and enjoying the moment with all her “friends” dancing for God!
It takes a village to raise a child!
An African saying which means that it is a whole community of different people who interact with the child to help it grow. You are not alone.
Take a few minutes to think about your hopes and dreams for your family. What can you do starting today to consciously bring more of God into your home?
I would like to cordially invite you to an inspiring, impressive and…
practical 3-evening Growth Course on Faith Education
on April 4, 11, 18 in Veenendaal.
This course will change and enrich you and your family,
and you will receive many tips and tools to get you started.
Register now because there are limited places.