How to Teach Our Children to Trust God
As a mom of older kids, I often feel like my job is most accurately defined as taxi driver. We spend a lot of time in the car. When I start to complain about it, I remind myself that some of the best conversations happen in the car. I want to know what my kids are thinking and how they’re doing. I want to know what’s on their hearts. They’re so independent now, but at least they still depend on me for rides (most of the time). I try to remember to appreciate this part of our life, knowing that it won’t always be this way.
With tweens and teens, anything beyond surface conversations will only happen on their own terms. If I want to know the good stuff, I have to be available to listen when they feel like talking. And with my kids, that’s usually in the car. One such conversation happened earlier this week.
We were talking about someone who had to transfer to a different school this year-and I casually said something about how that could have happened to our family this year, too- and how thankful I was that it didn’t. I was referring to our story about the owner of the home we had been renting deciding to sell it (no warning)- and our subsequent scramble to buy it. It all worked out, by the grace of God, but there was a lot of uncertainty- and the possibility of having to move to a different school district was very real.
My comment was met with surprise, as if the possibility of changing schools had never occurred to this child. It was my turn to be surprised. Really? Had I done that good of a job of hiding my concern? This scenario had weighed heavily on my mind. I thought I was more transparent than that. I had purposely kept quiet about my concern around my kids, not wanting them to worry- but I figured they must have picked up on it. They hadn’t.
My husband and I had prayed together, often, for this home that we now own. These prayers had everything to do with our desire to keep our kids in their current schools. Many of our friends had prayed for us as well. We ended up paying below market value for the house and it was a series of miracles that allowed us to gather a down payment we weren’t prepared for. I look back on the whole thing in amazement- and I know that the glory goes to God.
I have written before about my philosophy of protecting children from too much information. I hold to that view, particularly with young children, but I hadn’t thought much about what happens, as they get older. I’m coming to understand that there comes an age or level of maturity, when it’s a good thing to share more with our kids, even the scary stuff- as long as we point them to God, who cares for all our needs.
There’s an idea I learned as a teacher, called scaffolding. Think of a new tower: when it’s being built, the scaffolds are up and necessary, but as it gets closer to being finished, those supports are gradually taken away until it stands on its own. I’m seeing that it’s time to remove some of that scaffolding in my kid’s lives.
My views are shifting because of the conversation that happened in the car earlier this week. In an effort to protect my kids from worry, I also deprived them of something important, the opportunity for them to pray with us and learn how to take their concerns to God. God answered our prayers in a miraculous way, and he’s deserving of all the glory, but my kids didn’t even know about it. It’s a sobering thought. They know now, because I made sure to tell them, but how much better would it have been for them experience God’s miracle first hand, knowing that their prayers, too, were answered?
My kids are getting older and more independent. I will always pray for them. I won’t always have this precious time with them that I have now, in the car, to find out what’s on their hearts. I won’t always know exactly how to pray for them. There will be more and more things happening in their lives that I don’t know about. They need to know how to bring their concerns to God on their own. They need their own faith, strengthened from their own experiences with prayer and seeing how our very real God works within their lives.
I’ve taught them about God, but too often, in a textbook sense. I want to be sure that, from now on, I talk more often about God and how he meets us personally, in our daily lives, and how he cares for our needs. I’ve seen so many of my prayers for my kids answered in beautiful, miraculous ways. Oh, the many stories I could tell! I will tell them. They need to know, so God gets the glory. They need to know so; they too, can trust him with their cares.