When a soul is new: advice for first-time parents
Q. What is one piece of advice you would give to first-time expecting parents about the spiritual development of their young child?
Susan Heim: If you haven’t found a church family yet, now’s the perfect time to start! Look for a church that has supportive programs for parents with young children, as well as childcare when you want to attend a Bible study or other program. Ask for a tour of the church’s nursery facilities and talk with them about their children’s ministries. Do they have Sunday school, CCD or other programs for children? Do they have programs for middle- and high-schoolers? Seek out other families with young children at your church. Find a church where you and your soon-to-be-born child will feel welcomed and supported!
Kona Brown: Nowadays there is an onslaught of information about pregnancy and birth, and I sometimes think we get too hung up on the physical, losing sight of the deep spiritual implications of what is happening in us (during pregnancy) and what is about to happen to us (becoming parents). When God says He knew us before the creation of the world He by implication states the importance of our spirit, and our focus as we commence the journey of parenthood should also lay there first of all.
I would advise parents to give as much intentionality and emphasis to the spiritual side of this experience as we often do to the physical, if not more. Just as we want to prepare everything in our physical environment to keep our baby safe and help him or her grow, so we must do the same in the spiritual, allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us even in healing and repentance in areas of our lives that might impact the next generation, in preparing our hearts and praying God’s word over our children.
Julie Kieras: When you’re a new parent, you think your little baby doesn’t understand what’s going on…the thought might be to “wait till they’re older” to introduce spiritual concepts and activities. Yet my advice would be to begin right away! By making God and His Word a daily part of your lives through song, stories, talk, and church activities, you’re telling your children from the start that “God matters in this house.” I believe it’s never too soon to nurture spiritual development in a child. They are little souls, after all, from the moment they are conceived.
Keep it simple, but keep it consistent. A nightly bedtime Bible story, or singing “Jesus Loves Me” as a lullaby are both easy ways to begin. Children believe what they see you do, so making worship a daily practice and natural part of your life will pave the way for easier conversations about God throughout their childhood and into the teenage years.
Dusty Shell: Having a baby will make you realize all of your flaws as if you had a magnifying glass held to them. It’s eye-opening and humbling. It will also give you a deeper perspective on why having a relationship with the Lord is so important and critical. One piece of advice that I would give to first time parents is to be open with your faith. Don’t tuck it away and only bring it out when certain situations necessitate it. Children learn by example and will be most impacted by the visual witness of your reliance on the Lord than anything else. Actions speak far louder than your words ever will, so show them, daily, that Jesus is the Lord of your life.
Tiffany Malloy: If I could give any piece of advice it would be to be mindful of and intentional with their own spiritual development, and to live that out loud to their child. Passing on a love for the Scriptures, a passion for prayer, and a heart for loving and serving the world happens not when we tell it to our children, but when we model it in front of them.
I don’t think I quite realized this until my kids began asking if I ever read my Bible. What a funny thing to ask, right?! But, I realized that it was because I always read while they were sleeping. Similarly, I would often pray for myself and for them throughout the day, but I would do it in my head, just like I did before having kids. The problem is, they couldn’t hear those prayers, so they didn’t know that my response to our daily struggles, obstacles, and joys was prayer.
I think if we can let our kids see the way we interact with God and nourish our soul, then as they grow they will have a better understanding of what it looks like to love and follow God.
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