Parenting Tips… 

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Sing with your kids...
How to help your kids sing in church
People often comment about how our kids sing so well in church and it has occurred to us that this did not happen by accident! We’ve done a few things that have helped our kids to participate in church increasingly and thought it might be helpful to share some ideas.
KEY PRINCIPLE: The way you teach your kids about singing is part of the way you teach your kids what being a part of and participating in church looks like. It’s part of helping them understand that church is Christ and other-person focused (it’s not all about them!). That is not always easy, in fact it involves some personal discipline.
Some tips:
1. Sing yourself
– Show your kids that singing is important in church, don’t let them distract you or interrupt you during the singing – say things like, “you’ll need to wait, we’re singing at the moment”
2. Sing at home (or in the car, in the shower or anywhere really!)
– Use the spotify playlists that Louisa has created to sing the songs we sing at church while you are at home. Have the music on in the background or let them listen to it before they go to sleep. We would recommend starting with a small list and building up so that you actually learn the lyrics of the songs you are listening to.
3. Talk about why we sing in church
– Colossians 3 tells us we sing both to praise God but also to encourage others to keep following Jesus and His word. Talk to your kids about how their singing is encouraging to other people in church – remind them that the words we sing matter and the way we sing matters because we are praising God and encouraging others to follow Him. We’re not singing enthusastically so that everyone looks at us, but we are singing enthusiastically so that other people will sing enthusiastically – we’re starting a trend!
4. Talk about what we sing
– At home, use the lyrics of the songs to talk to your kids about truths that we know from the Bible. Our kids often use songs to help them answer questions during our family Bible time each day.
– At church, summarise the songs for your kids in one sentence. ie. “we’ve just confessed our sins and been reminded that Jesus has forgiven us, so now we’re going to sing and say thanks to God for that.”
or, “this song is all about how we can trust God even when things are scary and hard.” This helps our kids to understand that there is purpose in our singing, and attach meaning to the words that they hear
– For pre-readers it can be helpful to focus on the repeated parts of the songs – encourage them to participate in the parts of the song they can. Be brave and sing it with them without music so they can hear what the words are. Enjoy the moments of realising your child is singing some funny lyrics and teach them the correct ones!
5. Encourage your kids when they do it well
– We don’t want to make our kids proud, so this is a tricky one – but it is good to tell our kids when they did a good job. I often say, “thanks so much for singing this morning – it helped me to sing too”.
6. Don’t sweat the days that don’t work!
– There will be some days when singing in church won’t go so well, that’s ok – no need to panic. Take a deep breath, thank God for his grace and try again next week!
Not a parent?  
How to help kids sing in church when you’re not a parent of small children!
1. Sing yourself
Kids are watching you all the time. They notice when you sing and when you don’t. Show them what it means to participate in church by singing.
2. Encourage kids when they do it well
– Remember we’re trying to encourage but not build pride: Try not to say “You’re so cute when you sing” or “Oh you’re just the best singer”. Try to say things like, “When you sing, it makes me want to sing”, “I love the way you were praising Jesus today, it made me want to praise Him too”
3. Talk to kids about what we sing
– When you’re chatting to kids at church, talk about the songs, tell them why you like them or what truths they remind you of from the Bible
Special thanks to Hannah and Louisa for sharing their wisdom, gifts and experience with us all.
Do what you say...

Follow through with what you say you will do.  This will help people trust you at your word.   As a spouse, and especially as a parent, this is one of the greatest gifts you can give.  Hard at first as you establish the discipline in yourself, but it will produce stability and dependability over time.   The kids need to know that you are serious when you say something, otherwise they will never be sure whether to follow you or not.

Do you follow through with the consequences you’ve set for disobedience?  Do you limit what you say so that you don’t say something that will be too difficult to follow through on?  Some of us will need to be firmer here, while others will do well to show a bit more grace.  Do it all in love.

Practical tip:  Count up how many times you don’t follow through with something you say.  Use a piece of paper big enough for a large tally!  If you can’t identify when you do this, ask your spouse or a close friend to count for you!  When you’re convinced there’s some room to improve, pray.  And then record down (without judgment on yourself) why you don’t do what you say each time.  Then pray for what’s needed.  In God’s strength.

Remember what God says about children...

Ephesians 6 says children are to obey their parents, and parents are not to exasperate their children, but to bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.  But the Bible says much more – it is a treasure chest!

Compassion is a wonderful child sponsorship organisation that K@Ch sponsors Lawi in Kenya through.  They have a lovely page explaining some Bible Verses on children and Parenting.

Phill’s favourite from this list (and possibly the most practical) is… Deuteronomy 6:6-7

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.   Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

But my all time favourite is this one…  Psalm 78:4-7

We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lordhis power, and the wonders he has done…  So that the next generation would know them… and they in turn would tell their children.  Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Build a routine...

Lockdown has taken away many of the structures and routine of “normal” living.

Sticking to a routine gives stability, especially to your spouse and kids.  So here’s some practical ideas to get some!

Morning and evening routines.  Wake up at a regular time and go through a normal-ish routine of Quiet time, brekky, shower, getting changed, helping kids get to school / get set up for the day, exercise, work.   Encourage others in the family to follow their agreed morning routine too.  Go to bed following a consistent pattern or routine too.

Planning the Work/Kids balance
.  Whether you are working from home, the office, or not working, have a plan for the day of how you will spend time/chunks with and without the kids.   Try having lunch all together at a set time that works with school and work.  Add a recess break together as below.  Stick to your plan as much as you can, knowing that it wont be perfect because of curveballs.  Be realistic, rather than idealistic.

Enjoy it too! 
 No one said structure is boring.  Add fun things into your daily plan, as well as essential things to keep you going.  Examples include:  a fun easy family board game like snakes and ladders.  Contacting grandparents altogether on Zoom.  Explore an area of your neighbourhood for your exercise hour together.  Make slime together.  Paint!  Dig up the garden.  Place them into your plan, even if they are quick and in “recess” breaks.
Put the device down...

Be present.  Put the device down when you are in a group with your household members.  We can be distracted in our thoughts at the best of times.  Device in hand…we’re checking out at home and checking in with another set of people. Switch off the device regularly. Switch on to the people God has put in front of you.  Especially at dinner.  No TV.  No devices at the table.
Practical Tip:   Plan a time in your daily structure and routines that specifically has no devices.  Not even phones.  For kids and for parents.  

#1 - Invest in your own Christian walk...

Perhaps the single most important thing to “do” in your parenting is for yourself to live as a Christian.  To grow in following Jesus as your own Lord and Saviour, is more important than trying to be a good parent.   As you seek first his kingdom you’ll grow in your parenting.  As you invest in your own Christian walk, you’ll also remember that we stand by grace apart from parenting, as well as in it!

Quiet Times.  Let your kids see that spending time with God in prayer and bible reading and song is your heart’s desire.  They will “catch this” way better than you can “teach” them.
Practical tip Get into a routine of having a QT.  Morning or evening or both.  If you’re able, find a friend or two or three to create an accountability group to check in.

Growth in Godliness.  Share your struggles and joys with your children.  Remind them that your struggles only confirm why you are a Christian – because people are weak at obeying Him and we need both forgiveness and Holy Spirit strength to move forward.  Along the path of two steps forward, there are often one step backs.  Be open and honest about this, and again, your kids will catch how you live.  For him.
Practical tip Pray the Psalms.  Start with well known ones.  Psalm 1, 23, 46, 51 etc

Commit to Church.  Make a resolve to attend Church each week.  A Life Group.  This will help with God’s idea of growing together as believers, and to gain encouragement for your personal commitments above.  In doing so, your kids will see you and follow with a pattern of attending Youth Group, K@Ch, and other children appropriate ways of Christian community.
Practical Tip:  Don’t even make missing church an option.  During lockdown, watch at the same time as your other brothers and sisters.  9:30am.  And don’t hinder the kids.  Prepare their print offs, video playlist, and make sure they watch the Kids Spot, and join in the K@Ch QUIZ at 11:15.  And do it with them.

Serving in the Mission.   Nothing will stop Jesus from building his church, and using us to proclaim the good news of the gospel and making disciples of all nations.  Of course we are beginning this in our own households, so keep serving with this in mind.  But also think wider than your own family.  How can you continue the work God has for us even in lockdown?
Practical Tip:  Snail mail.  During lockdown, make use of snail mail, and write a card to not-yet-believing family and friends, workmates and neighbours.  Include a great gospel verse, (like Mark 10:45) and post it in the mail.  Then pray.

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