By Janette Haak
What does being devoted to something or someone mean? The more you practice devotion, the better you get at it. This is what family devotions should be like. If we’re truly devoted to God, then family devotions are not something that just happens at a particular time with a particular book or study guide. They happen throughout the day in our normal routines and conversations. There are, however, some reminders for making family devotions fun for everyone.
A calendar reminds us about setting a time for family devotions. It is best if you can set aside a day and time to have family devotions. Make sure that you choose a goal that you as a family can successfully achieve. If you’re just starting, don’t set lofty goals that will set you up for failure and low expectations from your children.
The second reminder is a timer. Have you heard of the “time out” rule, where if you set a child in the time out chair, they are to sit one minute for each year of their age? It’s sort of like that with family devotions. If you have a devotion that is 4 minutes and you have lost your child’s attention then probably 3 minutes was long enough. If you have a variety of ages, then you will need to adapt. If you have a younger child, have your brief lesson and then let your younger child draw or do some kind of a craft related to the lesson, and then dig deeper in the lesson for the older children.
I love tennis, but it is not a one person game. You need at least two people and possibly 4 to make it a fun game. Family devotions are the same way. Your child/ren will be bored if they’re just listening to you talk. Make it a two-way conversation; engage your child/ren in the devotion. This does two things; (1) it involves them and makes them feel valued, and (2) it is your gauge to their attentiveness.
An alphabet block reminds us that we need to keep the lessons simple. We teach our children the alphabet song which makes learning the alphabet simple. When teaching our children about the Lord, keep your vocabulary simple. Theological terminology only confuses children, who at a young age think literally.
Mini bags of M&M’s, yummy. I love chocolate, and these small bags remind me that if I had a large bag in front of me, I would either eat too much of it, or more likely, I would just not want to open it for fear that I would feel guilty for eating too much. We can’t, however, think this way when it comes to family devotions. If you miss a week or two, don’t reason that your family should just not have them. Forgive yourself, dust off the Bible and books, and carry on. Be flexible and have them when it is best for your family.
Our last reminder is a bottle of bubbles. You have to admit, bubbles are fun and bring great joy and delight. If you put them away, the children always want you to bring them back out again and again. Family devotions should be like that. When you finish, leave your children wanting more and asking when you will have them again.
One last thing I want to emphasize to you is that every day there are teachable moments that happen, and as parents we need to take advantage of them. When your children see you living out your faith, they will understand that God is with us 24/7 and we can rely upon him for everything.
We discussed this topic last week in the Faith Formation Class for parents held from 9:45-10:45 on Sunday morning. Come and join us this Sunday to talk about more ways that you can share your faith with your children in your everyday life! This article is a great testimony on living a life of daily worship from a St. Luke parent