It’s our dinnertime dilemma.
How do we manage to get through a meaningful family devotion time without bloodshed?
It wasn't always this difficult. When the kids were younger, they both loved reading “stories” and answering questions about God’s Word.
However, the sibling rivalry, age and gender differences have become glaringly and frustratingly apparent between my 10-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl. And so have their needs and maturity levels.
It’s normal to some degree – to be expected. (My wise pediatrician even confirmed this.) But it often makes dinner and devotions, our family ritual for years, feel like an exercise in futility.
Here’s a peek into our family dinnertime:
Micah: I’m done with my dinner! Can I read the devotions?
Molly: Oh, brother, why does he always have to read the devotions?
Micah: Let’s read two. I’ll read the first one and you can read the second one, Mom, okay?
Molly: Which book are you going to read from – the “baby” book? I don’t want to hear a story written for a two-year-old.
Micah: Stop it, Molly! Be quiet!
Micah begins reading then stops.
Micah: She’s looking at me!
Mom or Dad: Just keep reading.
Micah: She’s smiling at me! Tell her to quit smiling at me.
Molly: I’m not doing anything!
Dad: Micah, quit whining and just read. Molly, knock it off. I. mean. it.
Eventually, the devotion and Scripture is read. And an amazing thing happens. A discussion begins to take place that does not end in sibling assault. They start asking insightful and challenging questions. Don’t get me wrong. This does not happen every time. (If only!) Sometimes, the victory is just getting through it.
But more often than their dad and I would predict, all the pre-devotion wrangling ends with something like this:
Molly: That was actually pretty good.
Micah: Yea, we just learned that verse at church.
And despite the resistance, we’re actually glad we persevered.
When my kids were small, they were like sponges. They enthusiastically took in all the biblical values we could teach them.
I’ve hit that stage -- with Molly more than Micah since she’s older -- where my kids are beginning to question more and try to figure out what they believe. To push a bit against some of our instruction – in this and other areas, as well.
It’s normal. And good. It’s likely they will abandon their faith if they don’t ask questions and truly make it their own.
That doesn’t mean it’s not scary for parents. And discouraging at times. You don’t know how many times we’ve wanted to say, “Forget it! This is too much of a hassle! Go to bed!” (Okay, we’ve said that a few times.)
But I’ve learned we have to continue to persevere. To not give in to the resistance. To continue to pour God’s Word and guidance into their lives.
There are no guarantees. But if we allow them the freedom to question and grapple with their faith, while consistently guiding and instructing them in what we know to be true, they are more likely to one day enthusiastically embrace their faith again.
In the meantime, I’m making extra dinner portions. We all need our strength. ;0)
The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry.It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. Isaiah 55:10-11