I'm so grateful Kristen and I had time to record this podcast for you about bedtime discipleship before I made my way to Europe these past couple of weeks! While we're both so busy, we always enjoy talking about these important topics and sharing our thoughts with you. Thanks so much for your letters and comments letting us know what you're pondering and questioning as you listen along!
Bedtime discipleship is something that has been on my heart so much recently. In our house, the bedtime hour has been a time of intentional reconnection with our children: a time to check in with each child to find our what's happening in their lives, to share positive words with them, and prayerfully send them to slumber with grace filling their hearts and minds. Our desire has been to help our children lay down their burdens and have peace with us as their parents and also with God.
In the Psalms, David talks about meditating on God in the night watches. And so we want to establish that same pattern in our children's lives.
Our first goal is to get them to open their heart to us, so we ask questions. What emotions are on their hearts? It's important to give them time to share secrets, what they’re thinking about, what's happening in their lives and with their friends.
When we end our days relationally and work to put to rest all the fears of the day, our children learn they can trust us in the dark when they’re older. As adults we are always run down at the end of the day, with so much on our minds; our children are that way, too. While it can be tempting to send them off to bed with a "goodnight" from another room, if we rush through this time we're afforded each night, we all lose. Our children want to talk, get their thoughts out, and touch base with us.
This is the time to find out ... What’s your child’s heart condition? Are they anxious, taking a long time to fall asleep? Asking questions in the nighttime hours is really the best way of finding out what’s going on in the secret parts of their hearts. As they tell us about what's happening in their lives, they can be led into more questions ... How does your conscience feel about that? How can I help you? Was there some other way you might have responded to that situation?
Let your children tell you their stories. Ask the leading types of questions ... How are your classes going? What do you think about that thing we talked about yesterday? What’s new happening in your life? What are you thinking? Who are you meeting? Is there anything you want to ask me?
Every night, children can learn to give God their issues, temptations, difficulties. We can represent Christ’s forgiveness and understanding and his servant heart to our children when they bring up issues.
I am intentional during these moments to look into my children’s eyes so I can see what’s going on, having become a student of reading their souls through the lens of their eyes. You can, too! It just takes practice.
It is so important that we put our children to bed with peace. If you’ve been at odds or had a difficult time of correction during the day, now's the time to discuss it and make sure the rough places are made smooth.
Make sure to pray with them after you’ve listened to the spilling out of hearts! Teach your children to lay their troubles down, to hand their worries to Jesus. This helps your children build a lifelong habit of laying down their troubles rather than ruminating on them or trying to manage them all themselves.
Finally, give your children a story or verse before you leave the room, so their mind can work over something positive while they’re falling asleep. Remind them of something sweet they did that day, or when they were little, or perhaps paint a picture of something wonderful in their future, so there’s goodness and hope and fun as they’re falling asleep.
We've also loved leaving music playing in the room when we move on. Scripture melody lullabies and Michael Card's Lullabies for Babies were popular bedtime choices.
The goal of bedtime traditions is to have a time of connection, resolution, and blessing with our children before they go to sleep. I hope you enjoy today's podcast where we talk more about this important time of day! Read more about traditions important to our family in The Lifegiving Home.