Saturday, December 8, 2012

Operation Read Those Books: Days 6-8 of 21

I missed my reading on Thursday and Friday, but made up for it today by reading to the end of "Raising Great Kids" by Cloud and Townsend - 6 chapters!

So, that's 2 books down, 7 to go!

I liked the whole book, but chapter 9, "Connecting to God: Worship and Spiritual Life", was worth the price of the whole book. Wow. This whole book is clear and practical and brilliant (and being clear and practical are about the surest signs of brilliance I know), and I appreciated it nowhere more than in this chapter. Here are a few of my favorite sections:
As a parent, you may feel a tension . . . You have a deep desire to foster your child's spiritual life, but you wonder where to begin. This chapter resolves this tension by dealing with two aspects - being involved and having a structure in which to operate.
I read that and thought: showing up and having a plan? It's like liturgy! You can't make God show up, right? And you can't make your kids love God, right? (Most terrifying part of parenting ever.) But you can have a structure and you can show up. That . . . that's comforting.

And remembering that God loves them even more than you do. That's the biggest comfort of all. Anyway - more quotations:
Your task is to do the background work for your child's encounter with God. All relationships, including one with God, have a structure to them. Creating that structure is something you can do. In other words, you can create a context that fosters connectedness to God. If you wish to start a garden in your backyard, you need to prepare the soil, add fertilizer, water, and sunlight, and remove weeds and pests. You have maximized the optimal conditions for plant growth in your garden. In the same way, you want to create optimal conditions for your child to meet and love God.
I'm encouraged by the idea of thinking of my children's spiritual life this way.

And I really liked this short observation:
As one parent told me, "We are working on helping our son learn that God is a better parent than we are."
One of the things they emphasized was modeling your own faith in front of your kids. They wrote:
More than in any other character capacity, spiritual development is "caught" more than taught. Spiritual growth involves many conceptual understandings, so your child will internalize more of what you are with God and her than what you teach.
Your own alive, defined, active, and honest faith is critical as your child seeks to understand and attach to a vague, invisible God. Do not spare her the struggle of faith, however, to the extent that she can developmentally understand it. Let her see that a relationship with God, just as a relationship with anyone, takes time, has conflict, and requires work. 
I also liked how, at the end of the chapter, they pointed out that while you as a parent are trying to work yourself out of a job - i.e., end your child's dependency on you - your child's dependency on God is never going to end. Instead, they said:
You are . . . helping your child make a shift from immature dependency to mature dependency on God the Father.
Hear, hear.

Great book. I want to reread it every year or two, because it seems like the kid of book I"ll get something different out of each time, depending on what stage my kids are at when I read it. Very basic, very good. Fives stars!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

No comments: