Drive home, pull into the garage, shut the door, turn off the phone, eat dinner together, do homework, say your prayers, put the kids to bed. You are investing in your family by protecting them from everything and everyone else. Play dates are scheduled, friends are screened and schools and churches are scrutinized to make sure we protect our family. We call this “investing in our family”.
But there is one thing your kids need that you CAN’T give them.
In Deuteronomy 6 we get the often-quoted passage of “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” This can often be a passage that is displayed on Hobby Lobby art in every Christian home. We know the admonition to communicate this to our kids when we sit and rise, sleep and eat. We read of the need to make sure this is part of their vernacular, mission statement and training, though we often miss whom this is for. Moses did not declare this for every individual home and Christian cul-de-sac within earshot–Moses is saying this for ALL of Israel.
Carey Neuwhoff and Reggie Joiner point this out in their fantastic book Parenting Beyond Your Capacity: Connect Your Family to a Wider Community.
“Moses is speaking to all of Israel about the importance of families passing on their faith to the next generation. He was talking to every parent AND everyone else. We assume because there is so much language about family and children that he was talking primarily to parents, but Moses was speaking to ALL of Israel. The culture of the Israelite’s was that of community. Not only were parents listening, but there were others in the crowd as well: aunts, uncles, grandparents and a wider circle of adults.” P. 64
There is a need to “widen the circle” as this book suggests. The more voices you have in your children’s life saying the same thing you are, the more likely they are going to hear it. In fact, George Barna reports that teens who have at least one adult from church that makes a significant time investment in their lives were more likely to keep attending church. I’ve found that when my kids’ teachers and coaches say the same thing to my kids that I’ve been saying for years, my kids are more likely to take them up on it.
Add chairs to the table.
Anytime company comes, we add more chairs to the dining room table. Sometimes we need a bench, sometimes we need to straddle a table leg, but we fit people around it; it’s important to all sit together. We need to add more chairs to our family table, the influence on our kids and from our families must be expanded.
As busy as your schedule is, as crazy as your season of life might be, you must find ways to bring others into your family’s focus. It might be working at friendship with neighbors who share your values, people in your church who can help communicate with your kids or it might even be fostering kids or even adopting a grandparent at a Senior Center—the circle must be expanded.
If you’d like to know more, check out my latest book Better Together – Surprising Truth for introverts, extroverts, control freaks, free spirits, people persons, curmudgeons and especially you.