By Guest Author, Allie Ulmer
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in adulthood, it’s that life is short. As a mother, I’ve learned that the years of childhood are the blink of an eye. Though my two children are only 18 months and 8 months old, the days don’t slow down, and before I know it, they’ll be grown adults with families of their own.
So, if life is short, and the years we have with our children are even shorter, what are we to do as parents?
We live in a culture that runs full sprint. From the long list of obligations that come with work and school to the many circumstances that life brings, the busyness of our world never seems to give us a moment to breathe. Oftentimes, as a parent, I lay my head down at night and wonder where my day went.
I ask myself “Did I even engage with my children today?”
And by “engage”, I don’t simply mean play, feed, bathe, etc.. I mean, did I truly invest in my child’s soul today?
While playing with and feeding our children are definitely worth mentioning, I feel as though we don’t always slow down enough to really be intentional in the little things. I mean, after all, our children are gifted to us by God (Psalm 127:3), and we have been given the responsibility to groom and nurture these little bundles of blessings. Proverbs 22 instructs parents to raise their children in the ways of the Lord. How will our children know the ways of the Lord if we never take the time to engage with them and fill their minds with the knowledge of scripture, in hopes that one day their knowledge will lead to salvation and complete surrendering to Christ?
What greater joy is there than to see our children walk in full submission to the Lord?
So, how can we effectively engage with our children in a world that pulls us in a million different directions?
In order to successfully pour into our children, we must make sure we are filled up ourselves. This looks like spending time with God, meditating on His Word, and allowing Him to be our source of daily strength. Without Him and His guidance, we cannot engage with our children to the fullest.
I know this sounds cliche, but when we really think about it, are we actually doing this, or are we depending on our own knowledge and strength to lead and teach our children?
Being intentional with our children may involve some sacrifice on our end. When we’ve had a long day and all we want to do is put our feet up, scroll through social media, and watch our favorite show, intentionality looks like putting down our phones, turning off the TV, and gathering around as a family to read a book or sitting on the floor with our children to play a game and watch them grow as they learn new skills. Intentionality may look like taking time to sit around the table for dinner.
This is something that my husband and I strive for, but many times we choose to sit in our living room and eat while glued to Netflix. How much valuable time is wasted in those moments? Growing up, I remember having some of the best conversations with my parents at the dinner table as we all shared about our day and talked about our dreams and goals together. Oh, how I desire to be able to get to know my children on a deeper level while enjoying a warm meal at the table- all distractions aside.
Each family unit is different. Work schedules, school activities, and weekend plans are going to vary, but the common denominator that each family has is the need for meaningful relationships. As parents, we really only have a select few years to fully engage with our children and instill moral values and biblical teachings. I want to encourage each of us to look at our daily and weekly schedules and find ways to invest in the lives of our children.
The world will quickly try and suck them into the mainstream culture. So, I pray that we are diligent, proactive, and sacrificial during these years that matter most, and, in turn, that our children would grow up to be engaging adults themselves. I pray that we would find true joy in watching our children grow as we take the time to invest in their souls. Seeing generations of engaging people who love and serve the Lord will only come if we are bold enough to be intentional and lead by example in our own homes.
Allie Ulmer is a West Monroe, Louisiana native. A youth pastor's wife to Bryan and mother of two amazing kids, Judah and Noa. When she's not assisting her husband in ministry, she's busy enjoying her children. Allie also enjoys enfusing essential oils-making her home as serene as possible.