My twins love to do things that annoy each other (shocking, right?). I used to tell them that they are each free to do what they want as long as they are not hurting something or someone. I tried to emphasize the value of their respective freedoms. Then, in the car one day, Kenna started making (very) annoying sounds. When I asked her to stop, she said, “Mommy, I am free to do what I want if it doesn’t hurt you.”
Oh wow. I had created a big problem. I hadn’t predicted where this talk of freedom would head. (That looks pretty obvious in retrospect. I know.) At that precise moment, the emphasis on “freedom” in our family transitioned to thoughtfulness.
A simple explanation could have been, “We have the freedom to do what we want, but it is better to be thoughtful and consider how our actions impact others.”
Consider where that truth comes from, however. It’s based on a Christian worldview. If that had been the only explanation I provided, it would have been consistent with teaching Christian values, but it would not have been transparent as such to my kids. It needed translation to become a Godly teachable moment.
I explained it to her like this: “God made us so that we are free to do anything we want. But that doesn’t mean we should always do whatever we want. God wants us to use our freedom to choose thinking of others before ourselves…”
There are many teachable moments like this in an average day. However, we often inadvertently skip the actual God-reasons in our lessons and teach the resulting Christian “value system” instead. The challenge is to become more conscious of why we make the choices we do so we can share those whys with our kids and stop divorcing values from their divine origin. When we do that, God starts to show up all over everyday life!
Here are 5 more recent examples:
1. Not wasting food
I am passionate about teaching my kids to not waste food, as a demonstration of gratitude in their lives. I give them a small first serving and they are required to eat all of it. They can ask for seconds if they are still hungry. Rather than simply teaching them that we don’t waste food because it’s “not nice,” I specifically remind them that God tells us to be grateful for everything, and eating all of our food is one way we can exhibit our gratitude.
2. Apologizing to my husband
I recently snapped at Bryan in front of the kids (just that one time, of course). I realized I had three little faces staring at me about two seconds later. I immediately apologized to Bryan in front of the kids. I then had a conversation with them about the fact that no one is perfect except God and we need to always seek His forgiveness.
3. Listening to Christian music in the car
We listen almost exclusively to Christian music when we are in the car with the kids. Aside from not having to worry about offensive lyrics or commentary, we use this as an opportunity to surround their hearts and minds with God throughout the day. If we never explain that, however, it becomes a fact of their lives rather than a mindful concept. I periodically remind them that the reason we listen to songs about God is that it helps us think about Him more often and He needs to be the first priority in our lives.
4. Ending time outs
Our time out routine always includes an apology (from the child to me) and a hug. I often use it as an opportunity to add, “Does Mommy love you even when you misbehave?” We then have a conversation about how I love them for who they are, regardless of what they do, and I explain that that is how God loves us too.
5. Respecting the earth
When we are at the park or on walks, I don’t allow the kids to pick flowers (they can only pick up a flower if it is already on the ground). Instead of making the lesson about a general respect for the earth, I talk to them about the fact that God is the One who gave us the responsibility for the earth’s care, and we take care of it because we love Him.
What are examples where you have made a Godly teachable moment out of everyday life?