Shield or Expose? Do you have a plan?
Apr 26, 2019
By: Rich Harding
I’m writing this around Easter: The opportunity to teach our kids about what Jesus has done for us.
The other day my wife was in the car, on the way back from church with our eldest son Noah (5). She looked back in the rearview and saw him with his eyes tightly shut, so she asked him what he was doing. “I’m trying to see God, common try with me.”
When she told me this, it moved me so much to think my son is stepping into that next stage of understanding the things of God for himself. No-one told him to close his eyes, or in fact that that’s how you connect with him, he just observed and absorbed through the environment that he is in.
One of the great parenting questions is what are you going to expose your kids to and what are you going to shield them from? All you have to do for them to be exposed to the world is turn on the TV, let them loose on Netflix, or simply let them accompany you to the store.
So often we’re quick to let them watch Netflix but when it comes to church, we just send them to Sunday school once a week and expect that to be enough.
As parents we decide the answer to this question, but unless you actually sit down with your spouse and form a plan, the world will expose itself to your kids right under your nose. You have to be intentional about it, you need a plan with rules and boundaries to shield or protect your children. But you also need a plan of how you will expose them to the things of God. With my wife we are constantly evaluating this question and taking decisions almost daily. That’s the nature of this fast paced world we live in, we have to run to keep up, or else the world will run us.
Here are a few of the decisions we have taken as a couple. They don’t have to be your rules and aren’t exahaustive but hopefully will give you an idea of the kinds of things you need to look at.
Only 1 hour of Screen time a day
. This is the hardest to implement and requires discipline - as parents! We actually bought them Amazon Kindles for Kids
which let’s you put a time limit and monitor usage as well as restrict internet access. They are not allowed to use our phones or iPads, and when the time is up, the tablet locks itself!
No phones until their are at least 13. Our eldest is only 5 but we made the decision early on so when the question comes we have a united answer. This for me is a bit of a no brainier. Kids should not be allowed to have access to the internet un-observed.
No TVs in rooms - we don’t even have one! This also goes for watching iPads/iPhones or any form of media in rooms.
Respect the routine. This is really important, as when Kids get tired or hungry or they’ve been eating a lot of junk, they can be incredibly difficult to handle. We’ve found this out the hardway. We have morning, daytime and night time routines. I’m not going to go through it all, maybe for another blog. But it includes food, play, work and sleep times.
These things have to do with shielding, what about exposing. So many parents, for some bizarre reason expose their kids to the world but shield them from church. They only ever take them to church on Sunday and let them go to kid’s church. Their children never see them praying or worshiping. Why do we do this?! It should be the opposite. We shouldn’t shield them from God or from church, we should expose them to the things of God. Sometimes people think their kids are only small, but this is the perfect age for them to start learning, because at this age they take everything on board. Let them be involved in worship, in times of prayer and see you involved in them. Pray with them, and not just those prayers for kids but your prayers. Let them learn that God is real and that he really cares.
With our eldest son, who is showing more of an interest in the things of God, we try to let him accompany us once a week on something extra at church. As we’re Pastors we have something most nights, whether it’s a small group, a leader’s meeting, prayer or intercession or our saturday night
service. For one night a week we bend the rules and allow our son Noah to go with us to a small group meeting or a night service. We’ve found this has really helped him connect and explore the things of God for himself. He also loves the priviledge of spending time with us (and staying up late). It really helps for him not to resent church as a place that takes away him mom and dad.
This is a great opportunity for you to really think about what you are exposing your kids to and what you are shielding them from. I encourage you to take some time this week to sit down and form a plan for your children.
We also have some great resources to help you with this. Because you took the time to read this blog, I’d love to give you this weeks Bible story
and devotional activities
based on the Easter story from our Little Big Heroes Bible and Family Devotional for free. Just fill in the form at the bottom to get your download link.