Teaching My Son to Pray
I've been slowly reading through Give Them Grace for quite some time now and I started rethinking some of my parenting techniques. Liam is getting to the age where he is really testing his boundaries and it can be especially challenging for me to keep my cool. There are times when I just want to rip my hair out from frustration. It's not that he's such a bad kid. He's pretty great actually, but he has his moments and I wonder where this spawn of evil came from. I admit that patience is not my strong suit.
Anyway, as I was reading the book I started to feel a little guilty that we don't pray enough in our home and that I'm always telling Liam that he has to be "nice" and a "good boy." I mean, who are we kidding? He's a two year-old boy. He's going to miss the mark sometimes, just as I do. I can't expect perfection from him and I can't come down on him so hard every time he fails. How many sins do I struggle with, and yet, God always forgives. I also don't want to create a little Pharisee that is only good because I told him that's how he has to be. The Bible teaches that we can't be good all by ourselves, we need Jesus.
So I've been trying to incorporate prayer into our daily lives. The first way I do this is by praying every night before bed. Sometimes Liam recites a prayer he learned at school, "God our Father, once again, we will ask Your blessing. Amen. God is good, all the time time, all the time, God is good. Amen." It's cute. Sometimes he says his own prayer where he thanks God for mami and papi and Nene and all his books and puzzles and Spider-Man. :-)
The second way I've been reminding Liam to pray is when he does something he shouldn't do. For example, the other day Liam was acting up in the grocery store. He was just being a brat and I warned him that he would get a spanking if he kept it up (yes, we believe in spanking). After we checked out and got in the car I told him that I was not happy with his behavior. "You need to pray for God's forgiveness and ask him to help you to obey mami." And then I helped him pray and reminded him that I love him and God loves him no matter what, but He still wants to help us do better. I have to say, this is much more satisfying than yelling.
Hear me when I say I am not a zen, super Christian, amazing mom. I'm really not. I'm ordinary and I need God's grace just as much as the next guy. I'm just re-evaluating my parenting and trying my best to raise children who love God and know that He loves them too. There are definitely times when I lose it, but that presents me with my own opportunities for prayer. I can ask God for forgiveness and beg Him to help me do better next time.
It's so easy to forget God's grace. it's so easy to get wrapped up in the chaos of life with small children. It's so easy to forget that our kids are not born knowing about God's love. It's so easy to lose our cool. It's so easy to think of our kids as little dictators (because, aren't they?!). We have to intentionally stop, breathe, ask the Spirit to guide us, and proceed with love and grace. Let's teach our children to pray and rely on God for all things right from the beginning.