One day, my four year old son and I were taking a walk together. We usually hold hands. We hold hands to school. To cross the street. On the way to Church. But, on this day, something happened. While we were walking, he let go of my hand.
Now, it isn’t unusual for him to let go. But, something just felt different this time.
Was I looking into the future? Was I seeing a man growing in front of me? Am I ready to let him go?
We have a running joke between us. I ask if he wants me to drive him to University and he always says yes! Now, we laugh and I say it not really serious (or am I?), but a part of me really wonders, can I really let go? Will he be ready to be “in the world but not of the world” (John 15:19)?
I know this is entirely too early to think about because he is only turning 5! But, the days will be here before I realize. I pray that I do everything in my power to make him spiritually ready for the world. But, I know the number one thing I have to do is PRAY.
In addition to prayer, I have learned many things from a lot of my mentors and mothers around the world. I would like to share some ideas with you. Please share with me the things you do as well in the comments below.
Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
Since he was about 4 months old, when we started a bedtime routine, it included a Bible story and prayer together. We have kept that same routine until now, even when we travel. Recently, I have learned that before he sleeps, I should also anoint him with Holy Oil.
Before school, we stand and pray the Agpeya (Book of Hours). We do our metanias for ourselves, each other, and our Church families. He also does his “Quiet Time” (which right now consists of flipping through the pictures of the Bible and telling me proudly that he read the whole Bible today!). We spray each other with the Holy Water for God’s protection for the day.
I never want him to leave home without the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:13). Our children are being attacked by the evil one. They have to be prepared.
Our main prayer before we go to school is that he can be a light to the students and teachers. That all may know Jesus through him. (Matthew 5:16)
At school, he tries in simple ways to be that light to the world. He silently prays before he eats at school. He once took a sticker with God’s “heart” on it and he said he wants to share about God’s love. He dressed up as a Deacon alongside his dad for show and tell and sang the Holy God hymn to the whole class.
He is so pure. I pray that the world does not defile him. Does not destroy him.
After school, we spend a few afternoons doing Orthodox Homeschool. This includes the Saint story of the day, Hymn of the week, and Bible story. We usually do a craft, a puppet show, play dough or any activity to reinforce the stories. And we also have a lot of fun together! He shares a lot with me and his father. I pray that relationship continues.
Will he desire to continue this spiritual life? I can only Pray. There is a beautiful book I highly recommend. It is called Raising Them Right by St. Theophan the Recluse. It is challenging to get through but definitely worth it. I have roughly summarized it in a Word document and Power Point presentation for our church families. (If you would like me to send it to you, please send me your email address. But, this should not replace you actually reading it!)
The whole foundation of the book is that everything we do as parents is to guide our child to be able to choose at a young age to follow Christ in every part of his or her life. And of course, we have to lead by example.
My prayer for all of our children is that they have a strong foundation in our Lord Jesus Christ and in our beloved Orthodox Church.
I am sharing all of this so that you may know as a mother what I am trying to do to prepare my children. I am by no means perfect and I am still learning so much. I would also love to hear from you! You have many great ideas!!
So, let’s chat: How are you preparing your child to face the world and most importantly, to choose to love Christ?