Shaping the stories my children believe

Posted on Oct 29, 2012 in Spiritual

Shaping the stories our kids believeFor the past year or so Dana and I have been realizing that the stories we believe really shape us, our decisions, our values, what we place our hope in, everything about us. Because of this, we’ve been trying to be intentional about what stories we expose our children to.

God’s Story

Some stories we’re very intentional about sharing with our children, such as God’s Story. We want them to grow up believing that they are born as a slave to a curse, that a King not only paid the ultimate price to buy them out of slavery, but also adopted them as sons and daughters will all the rights, privileges, and access to the Father that comes along with that adoption. We want them to believe that this King gave us a part of Himself in the form of the Holy Spirit as a taste of what is to come when He returns to setup His rule with us in a new Kingdom. We want them to go through life deeply believing that story, so much so that they place their hope in that Kingdom and live their lives for it’s fulfillment.

The American Dream Story

That means there are some conflicting stories that we don’t yet want to expose our kids to, such as the American Dream story that believes life is supposed to start off great and only get better: get a good education, a stable job, a great marriage, a nice house, and comfortable retirement. While there is nothing inherently wrong with these things, that’s not the story I want my kids to place their hope in. I don’t want them to have such a short-sighted view of eternity.

The American Romance Story

While watching a few Disney movies with Hannah, another story Dana and I have decided to moderate is the American romance story. They’re often innocent, cute movies that Dana and I enjoy, but we realized that Hannah started believing those stories just because she had no other story to compare it to. As far as she knew, girls are supposed to be smart, guys are supposed to be dumb, and the guy may not ultimately have the girl’s best interest in mind.

Instead, we decided we want Hannah to fall in love with our romance story. While watching our wedding DVD with her, we answer her many questions. We tell her the story of how mommy and daddy met and married. As she gets older we’ll fill in more of the details for her, both the things we did right and the things we did wrong.

The Story We Live

But of all the stories we tell our children, I was reminded last week that the most life-shaping story of all is the story Dana and I live in front of them.

Before we left for Haiti, I told Hannah why we were leaving her and Zeke behind. I told her about children who have no mommy and daddy, no toys, and no home. I told her about people who do not have food nor clean water and that we were going to go help those people and talk with them about Jesus. I could tell Hannah developed a sense of pride in her mommy and daddy, almost like her contribution to our trip was giving her mommy and daddy away to other people for a week. The result? We returned home from Haiti to hear stories of how Hannah and Zeke played, “Going to Haiti.” They pretended to go help people in need, just like mommy and daddy. I think they caught that story! Now we’re reinforcing that story with all our pictures and videos from Haiti.

Stories are powerful. We all believe stories. I want to shape which stories my kids believe so when they’re faced with conflicting stories from the world they can make a clear choice of which story they want to believe. I pray they choose to believe God’s story.

QUESTION: How have you seen stories influence your children?

About the author,

Tim is a dad who is imperfectly pursuing his wife and children while ultimately trying to pursue the Lord's vision for his family. He's written a few books and dabbles in online video, mostly to support his primary ministry at home.

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