【Day 5】Family Time
When the child grows up and becomes six to twelve years old, the parents need to be good friends and spiritual companions of the child. Parents not only need to spend time to become their children’s friends, but also their spiritual companions, establishing a life of reading the Bible and praying with their children, and living a same life with their children (our serving the Lord and our living are integrated to be the same). When children encounter difficulties at home or outside the home, parents should discuss with their children and pray together to experience the Lord together. When a child is little, parents can set many rules and requirements to tell the child what can be done and what can’t be done; but when the child is six years old and enters elementary school, we should treat him as a gospel friend, or a saint in the Lord to shepherd and care for. At this time, parents can’t just make many demands on the children. They need to start discussing and fellowshipping with them. Many sisters asked what they should do with different kinds of problems their children have.
This requires the sister to find time to communicate with the child and to tell the child that as a mother, she has noticed that he or she has this kind of problem and then how this problem can be solved. Just fellowship, discuss, and pray with the child. Even for the rules to be carried out, we can communicate with our children and establish the rules together with them after discussion. After establishing the rules, we must pray together and tell the children: mother and you will establish the rules together, but in the process of implementation, you may encounter problems and may be unable to carry out what you want to do, but we can pray and experience the Lord. In any case, as the child grows up, we must be there to care, help, lead, and shepherd the child, but not from our own naturalness, flesh, or our being, but according to God to become a spiritual companion to the child.
When a child is between six and twelve years old, they will not follow you wherever you go like before, but at this stage they are quite easy and stable; moreover, they have a strong thirst for knowledge, with more reasoning, logical ability, and abstract thinking. They are also interested in telling what is right from what is wrong and exploring values. At this time, we can read the Bible with the children, discuss the characters in the Bible, and fellowship on our spiritual experiences together, so as to be their spiritual companions, so as to help the children to establish correct morality, proper values on things/life/world, etc. Children between the ages of six and twelve are interested in people of the same gender; at this time, we need to help the children find brothers and sisters of the same gender for morning revival and pursuit together to become spiritual companions with each other. This is very important. The companionship is not only with the parents, but also with brothers and sisters of the same gender and the same age.
When the child grows a bit older, he or she will grow up to twelve to eighteen years old. During this period, parents must become supporters and helpers of the child, to be shepherds and overseers of the child’s soul, and to have partnership in divine economy. Children have different needs, difficulties and problems at different stages of their growth. We cannot live for them or make decisions for them. Instead, we must shepherd them according to God and help them experience life and experience God. In this process, we need to listen more to our children, sympathize with them, pray and seek the Lord together with them to experience God’s power, God’s dispensing, and even God’s discipline together.
In short, in the process of children’s growth, every stage has its own needs; parents need to seize every opportunity at every stage to accompany and help their children experience the Lord so that their children can have understandings, experiences and enjoyment of the Lord subjectively. If a child has no experience of God, God cannot be his own God.
Whichever stage of life the children are in, we need to use “family time” to establish and develop a loving relationship with our children. Recalling my own family time, which was a time with the children, it was wonderful. This kind of beauty is not grasped through my teaching the children to do homework, nor through my children getting admission letters to universities, but through telling them Bible stories on laps and singing hymns together. Family time not only needs to be established, but if possible, can also be recorded through photos. In fact, this is a record of the child’s growth in life. It can be a gift to the child as a memory in the future. In this way he or she can follow his or her parents to establish his or her own family time with their future families.