"Maaaaaaaaaaama, Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaama … Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeshush, Jeeeeeeeeeeshush!" My youngest child, just two years old, called out to me.
I paused in my work to look and, sure enough, she was on the couch flipping through our children's Bible and pointing at the various drawings of bearded men on its pages.
"Yes, honey," I said with surprise. "That's Jesus!" How does she know that's Jesus? I wondered.
Then things got delightfully weirder. She folded her arms across her chest, gave herself a big hug, and began her own rambling and babbling rendition of "Jeshush wuvs me."
What in the world?!
Though she and I sing "Jesus Loves Me" at bedtime and she's watched as I've read short Bible stories to her two older siblings on school mornings, I'd never pointed at its pictures and told her they were Jesus nor had I ever paired the song with the images.
Someone else helped her make that connection. It was one of those special moments when I realized, again, God has a relationship with my daughter. God himself is at work in her life.
Our job description
Many Christian parents have similar moments with their kids—times when they observe a spiritual habit, a growth in virtue or character, a sense of conviction that leads to an apology, a moment of wonder, a growing sense of confidence or self-worth—and when we simply realize this has nothing to do with us. This isn't something we can take credit for; this is about God at work, growing or changing or connecting with our children.
While it's an awesome realization that God is at work in our children's lives, that doesn't let us off the hook. Deuteronomy 6 fleshes out God's vision for parenting in powerful terms:
"Love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates" (Deuteronomy 6:5-9).
This describes a relationship in which a parent's profound, whole-person love for God is evident, bold, and naturally obvious to her children. Driven by this love, she's committed to a life of obedience—and she speaks freely to her kids any time, anywhere, about God. Her life and her home are characterized by this desire to love and obey God—and this love, obedience, and mindful awareness of God shape the habitat her children grow and live in.