What to Do After Dinner?

As a Christian parent I have a God given responsibility to raise my children in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4).” Raising children is not something you do in a moment. You cannot designate a time of day in which you and your children will cease godless activity, and you, wielding the sword of the divine right of parenthood, instill in them the “disciplined/instructive moment of the day.” Children recognize hypocrisy early. This means that you do not have a membership card into the Christian parent league just because you pray with your kids before bedtime. I could also add to this list, going to church once a week, owning a Bible, or making sure you do not swear in front of your children. One Christian moment a day, or a week, is not Christian parenting.

Parenting is about modeling. Being a Christian parent is showing your children what a vital relationship with Jesus looks like 24/7. What does Jesus in dad look like at work, in the yard, and especially in marriage? What does fatherhood mean? God is a father, what does that mean? What does the Holy Spirit in mom look like at 7:00 a.m.? What is love? What are values? What is morality and purity? What is the meaning of family? Someone will answer these questions for your children. As parents, you get the first shot!

Yet in the midst of 24/7 there should be defined moments. Defining moments is the nature of discipline. Your children will not be disciplined people without routine. One of those routines my wife and I have observed since the birth of daughter # 1 is praying and reading the Bible with our children. For the past 9.something years we scheduled that moment for bedtime. It worked decently well – unless we were tired physically, mentally, or simply tired of our children! By the way, mom and dad, designated bedtime is not just a benefit for your children; it is a blessing for you. And so, in our family, with the hectic pace of life, coupled with the nature of 9 year old and 5 year old people, when bedtime rolled around, I was not mentally prepared for a devotional moment with my daughters. I found myself rushing through the prayers, which made them repetitious, and reading only a verse or two so that I could escape to a few hours of childless moments. They are angels when they sleep!

Over the last couple of weeks we have begun to practice something that I am really enjoying as a father. We eat at the table together and talk about the day. My favorite question to my girls has always been, “What was your favorite part of the day?” At the end of the meal we read a passage from the Bible and discuss it as a family. My oldest daughter is a very good reader and so she has enjoyed reading the passages. She reads a little. We talk a little. She reads. We talk. At the end we talk about the things we should be praying for, and we pray.

Using the after dinner format has made this particular parenting moment much more meaningful and enjoyable. It works for us, right now. It may not work for you now, but it may work for you later. If you have babies, this after dinner moment will probably not work for you unless you are good with liquefied green beans on your Bible. In any scenario, find your moments. Don’t be afraid to reschedule your moments. Modeling is 24/7, but it is, after all, essentially moment by moment. As a Christian parent, take the time to read the Bible with your children. Explain what it means. Explain what it means to you. Share your testimony of how the Bible has operated in your own life’s story. Connect the Bible with life by explaining to your children how you are like the woman at the well, or Nicodemus, or Moses. Then, pray with your children.


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