Our boys aren't little kids anymore.
The way they think, talk, act...it's changing. Sometimes, I feel like I'm speaking with adults.
I can't just talk with them about the 7 days of creation (although that is foundational), or the fact that God created them and loves them (also critical), or simply have a short devotional and prayer time together. As they age, I need to provide them with adequate, meaningful teaching so they can grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (see 2 Peter 3:18).
Here's how I'm changing my approach and going from doing devotionals to discipleship...
1) Having a roadmap
I'm not winging it. I have defined several main topics I will focus on for (each of) the stages ahead. For example, from 5-10 years of age, I'm helping them to see the importance of daily routines and discipline such as in brushing their teeth, cleaning up after themselves, journaling (a work in progress), and being comfortable with quiet time.
For the adolescence stage, I put together The Altarpreneur Initiatives, which you can save as a reference, to help me stay focused on 4 pillar topics as they grow into men and begin engaging with the world around them (This is catered to boys but can be used for girls as well).
As they grow in age and wisdom (I pray), it's important that I adjust my teaching style and content without compromising on Biblical doctrine. Having a defined, age-appropriate roadmap will help.
2) Influencing what's on their mind and how they think
A bit of context: When children are smaller (say, 1-3 years old), they are in the formative years, from a physical, cognitive, and emotional standpoint. Therefore, as a parent you have to influence and in a sense, control, what's on their mind. This happens by what you teach them, what you repeat often, the way you say things, what you allow them to see and hear, how they see you spending your time and energy, and so on.
As they move into a different age and stage, they will start to form their own convictions and preferences, based on what they have deemed as important. What they think about and where they focus their attention will have a lot to do with what you have told them and shown them, on a consistent basis.
Reading the Word of God will have the greatest influence on the way our children think and what they fill their mind with.
What's most important, and my responsibility, is that I provide a framework for helping them make decisions and develop Critical Christian Thinking (I'm coining this if it doesn't already exist). I will not be in their lives forever and won't be able to provide advice for every event in life (sad to think). They need to know how to use the Guide (the Bible) God has provided us in order to navigate through the various situations they will encounter in life.
3) Utilizing supplemental resources
Supplemental resources are people (family, friends, mentors, etc.) or things (books, videos, activities, etc.) that can positively impact their overall growth - spiritual, emotional, educational, vocational, etc. It can be an older family member like a cousin who they look up to, a mentor at school, a youth leader at church, or Bible-based books, and extra-curricular group activities. The list goes on.
The idea is to create a healthy network of people who are free to speak into their lives. People that I know and are trustworthy. People that love God and have a generous heart to pass along what they know; those willing to serve as eyes and ears to red flags or dangers that I may not always be aware of. This may be carried out on a consistent basis during weekly meetings at church or someone's house, or intermittently throughout the week, month, year, as they gather in different places and for various events.
At the risk of sounding idealistic and being shunned by those parents with older children who think I'm out of touch with reality, I pray they will continue to want to spend quality time together with Daniela and I. In the end, there is no replacement for one-on-one relationship building, especially in the example that Jesus left us for discipleship.
Keep the Fire Burning,
Biblical, on-the-go, tips for meeting with God. Written from our experiences as parents. This is our digital space for jotting down learning moments from our devotional time throughout the week.