Q&A Wednesday: How to Help Busy Parents Develop a Spiritual Practice

Welcome to Q&A Wednesday! These questions were initially featured in my premium newsletter subscription Treasure Box Tuesday. If you’re interested in getting the latest, including special freebies and discounts, please learn more HERE. Premium subscribers have access to a private Facebook group and their questions are the ones I answer! This question was initially sent out to subscribers in September 2020.

How do I help parents and families connect with faith practices when they’re already so overwhelmed with balancing work, home, and extracurriculars already? How do I get through when there are so many competing claims for their attention?

This is such a good question, and the struggle is real! Here are three points I’d like to make about this right now:

1. Teach Specific, Simple Practices that can be Repeated One 30-second practice, repeated every day for a month is far more effective at teaching a spiritual practice than one 30-minute lesson taught in one day. I believe in simplicity and repetition. Pass this message on to your families and give them concrete ways to practice it, and you’ll find the families in your congregation transformed. Two easy ones to start with are daily gratitude (naming one thing to be thankful for from the day before bedtime, or upon waking) and a bedtime blessing. (Simple words to say “Thank you God for life, love, and family. Please be with [child’s name] tonight and every night, Amen.”) There are dozens more ideas in my books: Faithful Families, Prayers for Faithful Families, and Faithful Families for Advent & Christmas / Lent & Easter

2. Provide space for parents to rest, refresh, and share what’s going on:

Give parents a way to check in with other like-minded adults, and you will give them a great gift. One simple way would be to host a 30-minute zoom call after bedtime for parents to check in with you and one another. Encourage your parents to come with a cup of hot tea and let go of the day’s worries. Give them a brief word of encouragement, send them into breakout rooms to share their biggest joys and frustrations of the week, then bring them back together for a closing thought and prayer. (I love THIS prayer for the ending.) Just giving parents a space to be heard and connected is a great foundation on which to build. If a community forms, you might consider layering on additional education around faith practices or a book study, or keep it focused on simple check-ins. A couple of other resources to consider – mini sabbaths, a good (short) devotional, or an encouraging parenting book. Keep your meeting to 30 minutes and be rewarded for it!

3. Help Parents Embrace Imperfection

The parents I know constantly feel like they aren’t measuring up. There always seems to be some other parent out there doing it better or a mile-long list of unfinished business at the end of the day. Ministry leaders can help by reminding parents of their intrinsic worthiness before God, and reminding them to accept themselves fully, imperfections and all. I like the Gifts of Imperfection as a guide on this, as well as an opportunity for parents to ask for and seek forgiveness. (Note that the forgiveness one is very rooted in my Presbyterian tradition and might not resonate with all. It’s from my archives!) Just allowing parents the opportunity to name their frustrations is a great way to relieve some of the burden.

If you are a ministry leader who is interested in having me speak or consult with your congregation about children, youth, and family ministries, specifically, or implementing change, generally, please reach out. You can book a mini-consult HERE or fill out the form HERE.

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