In our family we have found that singing is a useful tool for helping the kids with certain tasks. We have a bedtime song. We have a teeth brushing song. The teeth brushing song is one of my personal favorites. It’s a Christian version of the ABC’s that I remember learning from my mom. It’s a catchy little tune, teaches kids the basics of faith, and happens to be a good length of time for an adequate brushing.
Not too long ago I was singing the song while helping our middle child brush his teeth and I got to a line that says, “Jesus died for sinful men.” My daughter (our oldest) was listening in and promptly responded, “He didn’t just die for men you know, women too.” While I taught her that the use of the masculine was (in the past) used to represent masculine and feminine and that “men” meant “humanity”, I affirmed her correctness. “That’s right, Sweetie. Jesus died for men and women. He died for everyone.”
The lesson ended right there as she was finished with her bathroom routine and turned and walked away. Not a “deep” moment, but a moment nonetheless. It reminds me of Deuteronomy 6, one of the most (if not THE most) repeated lines in Judaism – the Sh’ma.
Here, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
In Western culture today I hear a lot of people complaining about kids, teens, and the younger generations. “Kids today…blah, blah, blah!” But we can’t blame the kids. Kids do what kids do. The ones who should be accountable for the decline of society (or however else you care to phrase contemporary problems) are the adults. Yep – you and me. How can we expect future generations to hold dearly to our values if we have not been regularly and consistently imparting and teaching our values and faith to our kids?
Proverbs tells us:
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
The other day on the radio I heard an interview with a clinical psychiatrist who told the interviewer that children are pretty much set on their course by the time they hit seven years old. That’s it. After seven the groundwork is laid and everything else in life will (usually) rely on default – the automatic responses set in place from our first seven years of life. Of course people can change – but usually we don’t. Our fall-back; our default, is already there. It’s no wonder we have difficulty reaching kids in middle school or late elementary. They’re default is set by 1st and 2nd grade.
We – the parents – have to do better at reaching kids when they’re young. If we want them to be responsible and moral citizens we need to work on those values early on. If we want them to be people of faith we need to plant those seeds so that, when they are out on their own, their default setting is a righteous and godly setting. Don’t pass the buck. It’s easy to complain about kids while never doing anything to solve the problem.
If you have no kids become a mentor to little ones, a surrogate parent or grandparent.
If you have kids don’t let them free to run their own lives. Kids running themselves only end in chaos. Teach them. Train them. Mentor them. Disciple them. Give them the foundation for a healthy adult life. And when we do what we’re supposed to be doing we can have confidence that the generations to come will be wonderful, caring people.
So let me teach you a little song that we taught our kids; that my momma taught me ~ I think she got it from the Gaithers:
ABCDEFG – Jesus died for you and me
HIJKLMN – Jesus died for sinful men, AMEN!
OPQRSTU – I believe God’s Word is true
V and W _ God has promised you
XYZ – a home eternally.