“You’re getting a little big for your britches aren’t you?” I can’t tell you how many times I heard that line as I was growing up. I was pretty sure I could handle whatever came my way and my sureness often got me in over my head. I had unrealistic expectations of what I was capable of and we can do the same things to our children.
The right thing at the right time helps us and it helps our kids.
We want our children to be successful, to learn, to grow and flourish in the fullness of Christ. So that they can live out all His promises with the least amount of bumps in the road. Our expectations need to match what our kids are ready for or we are going to be quite an unhappy pair. Can we expect a 6-month-old to walk, a 2-year-old to wait for an hour in a restaurant or an 8-year-old to work algebraic equations? Of course not. Children grow predictable patterns and each builds upon the previous one.
Our faith grows in much the same way. Peter didn’t start off as the rock upon which Jesus was going to build the church. First, he saw his mother-in-law healed of a fever. Next, he took Jesus out in his boat after fishing all night with no success, but with Jesus on board the boat filled to near sinking! Jesus just got real. It was then that Peter could step out of his boat in the middle of a terrifying storm. Each experience built upon the one before. Timing was everything!
For our children to step out into the world, Jesus must be real, not just a person you read about in the Bible.
So, how do we get there?
- Read age-appropriate Bibles. The recommended age is often printed on the front or on the copyright page.
- When you pray with your child, it should sound like you are talking to a person the age of your child. No churchy language (glory, salvation, sanctify, redemption, resurrection, tribulation, etc.)
- Sing! Sing! Sing! Sing songs that praise and bless God and songs that teach truths of who He is. The Holy Spirit will write these truths on their heart in His own unique way.
- Ask Jesus questions and wait. Ask Him to show your child pictures, give them words and send them dreams. Then write them or draw them in a journal with your child. The journal will serve as a reminder of when Jesus spoke to them.
For more information on developmental appropriateness visit www.gesellinstitute.org.