Connecting Our Children to Spiritual Mentors
I was recently interviewed and asked how parents can connect their children with other mentors in the church. In The Disciple-Making Parent I quote Kara Powell who suggests trying to connect our children with a least five adults in an informal way.
But how can this happen? The church can certainly help but what can we do as parents?
I have written extensively on this in Chapter 6 of The Disciple-Making Parent. But in addition to that material I ended up adding several other things in this interview.
1. Teach your children to greet other adults.
Children can and should greet adults. Did you know that “Greet one another” is a NT command that is repeated four times?
Yet many parents never encourage their children to greet other adults and carry on a short conversation. We make excuses for them. We say they are “shy.” The reality is that children can be trained out of shyness.
Depending on the ages of our children, we can and should train them to interact with a few adults. Sunday morning worship or a meal at someone’s home is a perfect chance. We can help our children by giving them questions to ask. Prepare them by saying something like, “I want you to go and shake Mr. Bettis’ hand and say ‘Hello.’ And then ask him how his week was.” My adult children laugh now remembering that one of our standard get-to-know you questions for guests that we gave them to ask was always, “Did you have any pets growing up?”
Many adults want to connect with young people but don’t know how. By putting the responsibility on our children it helps break the ice.
Right now in my church, I have two young guys, around 5 and 7 years old, who come up and greet me on some Sunday mornings. Now that we know each other a little bit I will often say hello to them first. Out of the whole cloud of kids I know these two by name and they know me by name. They feel comfortable coming up and talking. They are learning the skill of greeting others and a foundation is developing for talking later in their teen years.
Are you training your children to interact with adults? Appropriate to their age they can do it.
2. Talk up your friends to your children.
If we want some of our friends to be spiritual “aunts and uncles” to our children we also need to be careful how we talk about them. Little ears are always listening.
I once watched a husband and wife have an adult conversation about issues in their friends (Don’t we all have those flaws?). Rather than save that conversation for another time, they had it in front of their children.
Apart from whether it is appropriate to have the conversation at all, it certainly is not helpful with their children present. It robs them of the respect they should have for all adults.
As we seek to connect our children with others let’s be careful of how we speak of them. Instead, it is much better to actively praise our friends to our children.
The rest of my suggestions start on page 55 of The Disciple-Making Parent.
What would you add? Shoot me an email and let me know.