There’s nothing as significant to the act of rearing a child as conversation.
That’s a tough thing for me to admit because I’m not very good at it. I am a task driven man who has had to learn first hand (mostly by watching my wife Kara in action) just how important conversation is to keeping the heart of a child and guiding them through life’s challenges.
No Secrets to Good Parenting
This isn’t one of those, “three secrets to good parenting” kinds of articles. There are no secrets here. When we look at Jesus’ example of discipling and the rest of the teaching of Scripture on raising children, it all points to the centrality of conversation all day long on all sorts of topics. Jesus kept his disciples “with him.” Paul continued his conversations with his disciples in the form of letters to churches. The law of God which was transformational, turning those who were not a people into a distinct people and teaching them how to live faithfully before their God, said that they were to verbally apply the teaching of God to their children everywhere and all the time. When the prophets bemoan the failings of the Israelites they often point to the fact that the next generation didn’t remember the God of their fathers and we know from Psalm 78 that it was because their fathers didn’t talk to them about their God.
What is it about us that stops us from deep conversation with our kids? Why was I so slow to pick up on the value of consistent deep conversation and what makes me sluggish in doing it now? The short answer is that I’m a selfish man who doesn’t want to be bothered. These conversations can be lengthy and all I want is to move on to the next task, get something done I can check off my list and move on to the next thing.
Getting Things Done
Years ago in the midst of these conversations I’d find my mind wandering from the conversation at hand to the thing I wasn’t getting done. I remember thinking, “Ok, well, that was a good talk. I think we’ve covered it well enough.” Meanwhile my wife was drilling deeper, pressing harder, making a point that I thought had already found its resting place. I truly thought she might be going too far. Then something would happen—a breakthrough. One of our children would respond in a new way, perhaps with tears, maybe with a statement that revealed a heart that had gone astray. It was astonishing and the value of these hard and often long conversations became obvious.
Teaching Wisdom & Understanding
I, rather slowly, came to learn that without this heart-level conversation on just about every topic under the sun, our children would likely grow up without wisdom and understanding. Think of the way the father in the Proverbs appeals to his son in the early chapters of that book. There is a strong sense of importance, even urgency to what the father needs to share with his son. This is what these conversations are with our children—urgent pleas for wisdom and understanding for all of life. My “get in, get it done, and get out” way of addressing things had to give way to something far more significant that may include discussing things far into the night.
These conversations are still harder for me than my wife, but they’re worth it, every minute, and I can’t imagine where we would be without them.
This article was first published in Every Thought Captive magazine. Highlands publishes ETC each month with insightful articles to help you take your thoughts captive to Christ and live the good life He has given us. SUBSCRIBE TODAY!