These commandments that I give you today are to be on 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. Deut 6:6&7
This morning I was listening to a radio program about teaching young children to read. Two experts in the area were reflecting on the important factors that encourage literacy. In amongst the usual ideas (read to your children, have books lying around the house, find good apps etc.) one idea resonated in particular. That is: Parents with young children should narrate the world to them. “Mummy is going into the kitchen to get the red bowl.” “Daddy is putting on a woolly jumper.” The idea is that you introduce the child to both words and conversation at an early age while going about your daily duties. Many parents do that quite naturally. Objects and names are connected and actions identified. There were also another host of positives.
But do we narrate the the world to our children at a spiritual level? Are we developing their spiritual literacy? In our words and actions, are we reinforcing Christian values and Biblical concepts? Our actions have moral and value laden implications – our children need to know the underpinning that informs what we do. Our children need to learn right behaviour but what is even more important is the right thinking that shapes our behaviour.
Moses, in Deuteronomy 6, understood this. In an age when values are thin on the ground the child of Christian parents needs to be continually shaped by Biblical standards. “We are helping at the the shelter on Christmas Day because Jesus wants us to look after the less fortunate.” “You don’t talk to your mother like that because God wants us to honour our parents.” That second example needs to be demonstrated when you visit your parents or when you talk about them at home.
If we consciously narrate the world spiritually, whether watching TV with issues that arise, debriefing a day at school or simply having dinner, we and our children will be blessed as both parent and child are reminded of the “reason why” we behave and live in a particular way.