By Rhonda Ihrig
It’s crazy how focused we as parents can become on the academic and extracurricular activities of our children. Moms and dads take time off work or do whatever is necessary to shuttle their children all over town and out of town. Nothing’s too much and no place too far if it means we think it makes them better, or advances them in some area.
I’m not saying those investments have no affect or meaning, I’m just saying things of some value should never be in subjection to things of greater value. It is so easy to focus on everything our kids are involved in that when it comes to setting an alarm to get to church, it’s easy to forget it and take the time to rest. We can easily be exhausted by pouring our energy into things that have little to no eternal value that we are left with little to no time to disciple our kids.
Growing up, our children obviously went to school (screaming and kicking at times), and were both involved in sports. With our daughter as a competitive swimmer for 9 years, and our son playing football for 6 years, my husband and I had to shuttle the two of them to 17 practices, games, or meets every week. But even with that busyness, we rarely sacrificed Sunday at church, youth group or participation in church activities. AND we used our time traveling in the car for discipleship, prayer, and what I call “car conversations” with our children. We maximized our time with our kids, and here are helpful tips on how you can do that too:
● Be intentional. When you are in your car, ask them about their day. Don’t just find out about their school work, ask what happened at school with their friends, teachers, and activities. Your dialog can become the springboard for more conversation that will lead to life-learning lessons. We did this with our children and now with our grandchildren. If you are sincere and genuine, you will be amazed at how they’ll open up and talk. It’s especially true when they know you are actually listening, can be trusted not to judge, and give them good input.
● Be bold. Talk openly, honestly, and be willing to say the hard (not mean) things. Most kids hear and talk very straight these days, and they want truth from people they trust. Be bold to ask about the words they use, or things they say that you don’t understand. You might be shocked with what you hear…just don’t show it. You need to know, and more than likely, they need to tell you. It only becomes your opportunity to speak God’s truth into their lives and teach them spiritual truths without beating them over the head with the Bible. Use the Bible to instruct rather than as a blunt offensive weapon.
● Be informed. Find out what kids are listening to, talking about, and what media apps they use. If they have a phone, look at it! You need to see who they are connected to, what they are texting, and what they are looking at. They are vulnerable and can easily get sucked into conversations or sites that are sexually and morally wrong. Staying aware of their friends and activities will help in your conversations. It will teach them that you will always be interested in what they are doing, and will help you stay in touch with their world.
● Don’t be perpetually serious. Lighten up! Having fun and being silly now and then is good. You don’t want to be the snarling ogur or the angry entity. You don’t want to be with people like that. Neither do they. So have times where you’re serious but make sure you have times when you’re fun.
So don’t put all of your energy into things that won’t matter for eternity. Use every moment wisely. I know it pays good dividends because I see the results of the many ”car conversations” we had, and I see how much it influenced our kids in the way they raise their children. Yep, it pays off, and one day those car conversations with your kids will eventually turn into similar conversations with your grandchildren. Then you’ll have opportunity to learn about a whole new world and you’ll be grateful that God has given you the honor to speak into another generation.
Rhonda is a Pastors’ wife, mother and grandmother. She lives in Livermore California, but you can also find her on the back of a Harley taking long rides with her husband, Larry. Rhonda loves God, her family, coffee and chocolate. Her passion is to see people serve God to the fullest and to see them receive every blessing that God has promised. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook!