What Our Play Can Teach Them About God

Enjoy Your Children

My son has always had the sweetest giggle. As a baby, he’d find something he thought was silly and just laugh and laugh causing those around him to join in the merriment. Such pure joy. Even now when I hear his laughter return to that little giggle that reminds me of those precious baby-days, it makes this momma’s heart sing.

Mom and Dad, did you know that our Heavenly Father enjoys you? Zephaniah 3:17 says that God “delights in you… he will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” What a stunning picture of God’s pure enjoyment of us. Take a minute and let that sink into your spirit. Think of those moments recently when you have delighted in your children. How did you feel in that moment? Capture that feeling. Savor it. In the same way that you delight in your children, our Father delights in us … exponentially more so!

It is my working theory that there are seasons in this parenting journey where it can seem like your children need more correction than in other times in their lives – “No, don’t throw the ball in the house. No running inside. No, you can’t have more cookies. Lying is not okay. Be kind and share.” As their parent, I know I am an important part of how my children view God, and I often worry in these seasons that the view they are getting is of a judgmental God who always thinks they are making mistakes and doesn’t like them. That isn’t what I want them to see because that certainly isn’t true to who our God is.

In his book “Safe House,” Joshua Straub challenges parents to spend 20 minutes a day in child-led play (yes, you read that right. Child. Led. Play. You, Mom and Dad, playing whatever your child wants as they direct you. So, you might end up playing the role of Doc McStuffins’ latest patient or a dark Sith Lord. Your child gets to decide your fate). Straub posits that learning to be present with our children in this way can be very “powerful and connecting” for them contributing to their independence and self-confidence. Can you imagine how your children would feel if they got to play with you for twenty minutes each day? Do you think they would feel valued by you? Enjoyed?

Also, “in a comprehensive study of relational dynamics in more than 300 families spanning 35 years, family warmth was more correlated with faith transmission than any other relational factor (including amount of contact between the generations, the type of contact, and the number of children in the family).

I am beginning to believe that this is a vital key to discipling our kiddos particularly in those rough seasons of lots of correction. Our children need to know that we enjoy them and we take pleasure in spending time with them. As we express our delight in them and being with them, they may sense the enjoyment of their Heavenly Father.

What are some ways you express your enjoyment of your children to them? And what are some obstacles that keep you from taking time to join in their play? As you consider some of your children’s favorite things to do with you, plan to make time this week, today even, to participate in that activity with them – and remember – let them doing the leading!

Father God, you are a good Father. You truly are. Fill our spirits with the awareness of your pure delight in us. Roll back the hurt and failure in our hearts that keeps us from fathoming how you could ever really like or enjoy us. Let us hold on to the truth of your great pleasure in us. And Father, help us to get past ourselves; our busyness, our desires and goals, our weariness, to spend time with our children, to play with them, to express our joy in being with them in a way that makes their hearts sing. They need us, Lord. They need to know how much we adore them, and even more so, how much you delight in them! Thank you, God, that you are not a God who is far off, but one who is very near. Thank you, Father. Amen.

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