Sunday, 4 August 2013
5 Ways to Introduce God to your Baby
I want God to be a natural part of my son's day. What I mean by that is that I don't want to introduce the idea of God only on Sundays, and I don't want my son to associate God solely with the church. That he should follow his commandments at all times - yes of course that's a big part of it. But much more than that, I want him to know that God is always there for him, wherever he is. That way no matter what is happening in church that week, or if we don't make church, he can always know that God is close by.
I've thought a lot about the ways I can incorporate God into my frog's life, and these are some of the things I've been doing so far. Of course I don't do all of these every day, and some take more effort than others. But I hope that by the time my son is talking and interacting with other children, his speech will reflect what I hope his beliefs will be.
#1. Not lucky: blessed
Our day-to-day use of language is the easiest way we can show our baby God. So instead of saying that my son is lucky, I'll tell him he's blessed. When I show him a flower, I'll tell him that God made that flower. I try to speak about God in the same way I speak about the frog's friends and relatives, to help him understand that God is approachable and available to him at all times. I want him surrounded in positive language - frustrated rather than annoyed, dislike instead of hate. I want him to know that it's okay to speak of God out-loud and with conviction - our association with God doesn't need to be whispered.
Before meal times is a good time, and at bedtime. This is a good time to name all the special people in your child's life, and say thank you for all the blessings you received that day. I hope to expand this when he's older, asking him about his favourite part of the day and ways in which God has blessed him. I feel it ends the day on a really positive note.
Sometimes in the car I'll find myself singing along to songs on the radio that are not appropriate for the frog. Now rest assured; I'm not about to tell you to quit the radio, because I won't tell you to do something that I'm not willing to do. Instead I'll suggest this - listen to the words of songs, and if you don't feel it's appropriate change the channel. Have a CD of Christian music in the car and put that on for the length of a song. At home, try to sing Sunday School songs instead of nursery rhymes. Nothing wrong with most nursery rhymes! This is just a way to have the words of Christ constantly surrounding your baby.
#4. Changing my Attitude
How many times have you been cut off by someone when driving, and called that driver an unpleasant name? For me it's sarcastic comments I'm most guilty of, and directing those comments at the frog ("well I guess he just couldn't wait, could he baby?"). I'm trying my best to change my perception of people who do rude or inconsiderate things. So I'll tell the frog that maybe that person is running really late for something important, or they have just had bad news. I don't want him to think people who do horrible things are horrible people (or we would all fall under that label from time to time).
#5. Gentle Parenting
I believe in gentle parenting. I'm certainly not going to get into a debate over spanking and time-outs - that's another post for another day. But my feeling is that I want to help my son feel right about himself. I don't want to humiliate him or belittle his feelings. I feel we have a wonderful example in Jesus, who above all things was gentle. Did he know when to reprimand? He certainly did, and did so forcefully. But he spoke quietly to people - he let the little children come to him and took time for people. I want my son to know at all times that I have time for him, and that I will try to handle a situation gently.
This is the one I find most difficult. I'm not naturally gentle or subtle - I like to yell and often react out of frustration instead of love. But I'm working on it. One way I'm doing that is to apologise to the frog when I react badly. I feel as parents we need to show our children that there's nothing shaming about apologising - that it's an act of courage. And to do that we need to show them that courage, swallow our pride, and say "I'm sorry for yelling earlier - Mama shouldn't have gotten so upset". And here's the hardest part: stop there. Don't go on and say "but you shouldn't have been doing that". We immediately put the blame back on them when we do that. The frog may not be old enough to understand that yet, but he soon will be.
I'm sure this list will change as my son gets older. I just want him to be surrounded by Christ-like language and attitude. I can't lock him in a bubble, and I'm not willing to forgo TV and radio. Even if I was, I want him to be able to deal with inappropriate situations with the courage of his convictions, so feel he needs some exposure to them. Above all these things, I want to be a daily example to him of how much more pleasant and rewarding life can be with God at it's centre.
What are ways you show your babies/toddlers God?