“Why can’t you just say, ‘Because I said so’ every once in a while? It’s a lot harder to watch kids that haven’t learned to be satisfied with that statement.”
I certainly never expected that reply when I asked how babysitting went.
But I could see it: as a young child my son was very inquisitive. Trying to satiate (let alone encourage!) his curiosity took a lot of intentionality. Intentionality that had been planned well before we had children, when it was easy to know exactly the right way to parent.
So when my friend made the comment of teaching my kids to be satisfied with “Because I said so,” I laughed. It made sense.
It’s an easy answer when you’re just too exhausted (physically or mentally) to press on in conversation about what the dog is thinking or why that thing works as it does.
However, as with most shortcuts in life, what is easier in the moment becomes a challenge in the long run.
That’s because the question about why a shark doesn’t sleep is really only partly about ocean creatures. The real question pressing through is “Do you see me? Am I worthy of your time and energy?”
When we dismiss one, we shut down the other.
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When we are intentional with engagement, we develop a culture of communication within our homes. Listening (and answering) tells your little one that you see them, that they matter, that their words matter, and that you are always willing to hear what’s on their hearts.
It is this intentional engagement in the little moments of everyday life that opens the door to greater conversations surrounding faith, integrity, and sex.
Now, before I take all the credit, this idea of engaging with our kids in the daily moments to impart wisdom and teaching is not a new concept. Over 3400 years ago, as the Israelites prepared to cross the Jordan and enter the much-awaited Promised Land, Moses took one last opportunity to remind the people where they had come from and what the Lord expected from them moving forward.
Moses taught the people that the greatest commandment ever given should be imparted upon our children in small moments of everyday life.
“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon 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.”
Our faith should be deeply ingrained in our hearts and then put into action in how we parent. Conversations at home, on the go, in calm moments and in the busy moments – these are the times when we share what truly matters.
Through our consistent and intentional engagement, our faith can be moved from thought to direct obedience of Scripture. And if you ask me, that’s the best place for us to live as we parent our children.
So the next time you’re tempted to dismiss the endless questions, pause. Use the opportunity to connect with your child. Yes, it can be exhausting. But it is also the better way to lay a foundation for the future. It is the first step to creating a lasting culture of communication, and gives your kids permission to come to you even as the questions get heavier; questions of peer pressure, sex, faith, and more.
Charese Pettis is an advocate for healthy families through church and school ministry. She believes that parents have a beautiful opportunity to lead their families to know and love God through His word.
Charese is happily married to her high school sweetheart, David, with whom she raises their 4 incredible kids in Spokane, WA. She enjoys baking scones on Sunday mornings, Friday night family sleepovers, and sunshiny days playing in nature.