Do you feel guilty about not being a “good” Christian parent? You have been taught to teach your children the Bible at home, pray with them and do family devotionals, but it feels nearly impossible to check all of these boxes every day.
Other parents seem like they are doing it well, or they at least say they are doing it well, which makes you feel guiltier. Not to mention the conviction that comes on Sunday mornings when you recognize your failures as a parent. Today’s high-paced, overworked, and plugged-in culture barely leaves time to eat dinner at home, much less, devote thirty minutes to an hour for some type of spiritual training.
But you are not alone. Here are four reasons Christian parenting is hard today.
Children today are being academically challenged at higher levels and at a faster pace than before. Don’t believe me? Come check out my daughter’s third grade math homework. I have to YouTube third grade math teachers before I can help her. Our children go to school for roughly eight hours a day. When they get home, they could be doing homework anywhere from one or two hours each night.
I get Jesus is the answer, but you can’t say that on the telling time homework sheet. If you do, your child could potentially fail his or her grade. The current academic climate makes finding time for family devotions extremely difficult.
2. Parents work longer.
The American Dream has created a culture for neglecting the home. Parents are being required to work longer hours in order to grow company profits or climb the career ladder — or even just to make ends meet. Parents are not only working during work hours, but also required to answer emails or build presentations while at home. Considering that many families are dual income families in order to financially survive, the American dream makes family devotions even more complicated. Overworked parents are jut trying to make it to Saturday in one piece without trying to add more to their plate in biblical instruction to their children.
3. Extra-curricular activities.
Extra-curricular activities are not inherently evil, as some Christian leaders have argued. I find value in sports, art, music and clubs for the benefit of our child’s social interaction. All human beings were created to be in community, after all (see Genesis 1:18). Yet extra-curricular activities are becoming more time consuming. Practices, games, rehearsals, meetings and other such tasks diminish the time we have at home and time devoted to the Lord. When parents finally make it home, many of us are rushing to get everything done—including homework—before bedtime. We don’t want our children to be socially awkward, but extra-curricular activities create difficult barriers for Christian parents.
4. Adequate sleep.
Parents know children need adequate sleep each night. We remember the days when our teachers told us to get a good night sleep and eat a healthy breakfast before any major exam. I know studies vary on how much sleep a child should get based on age, but many parents still want to get their kids a good night rest before another busy day. Children function better, not to mention we finally get a quiet moment, with adequate sleep. Many parents find it easier to accommodate adequate sleeping patterns by forsaking spiritual devotions.
What Can Parents Do?
I’m sure you could easily add to my list. What should we do as Christian parents? Is there an answer to this problem, or should we just throw up our hands and submit to the crushing realities of parenting in America?
I think one solution can be found in Deuteronomy 6:7. This passages tells Israel to teach their children God’s Word when they sit, walk, lie down and rise each day. Christian parent, teach about Jesus throughout the business of your day when you are with your children. You don’t need to have a full blown worship service every night at your house where you preach a sermon with three points and a poem. You can teach about Jesus throughout the day-to-day operations of your life.
Here are a few examples for you to try:
- Pray with them in carline before they run into their schools.
- Teach them to memorize Scripture, and recite it to you on the car ride to their practice, rehearsal, or game.
- Look for teaching moments throughout your daily activities. If the homework is hard, stop and say a quick prayer with your child that God will give you both patience to get through it. When your child sins on the basketball court, remind them that Jesus paid for that sin on the cross, and their belief in Christ gives them the Holy Spirit to overcome sin.
- Sing praise and worship songs (as loud as you can) traveling from one activity to another.
Small spiritual moments throughout the day can add up to large portions of spiritual development every day. Don’t feel guilty. If you have failed as a parent, God can forgive you through Jesus Christ. Therefore, be encouraged to be the parent God has called you to be by providing biblical instruction as you take a life journey with your children.