Just this morning, my son was watching cartoons. Something must have happened with a cat because he turned to me and said: “that’s why you should never get a cat, right dad?” Full disclosure, we are not a cat family. My wife and daughter are both allergic, and even if they weren’t, seriously, what’s to like about cats. Well, we have obviously rubbed off on our five-year-old who is now using cartoons to stockpile reasons against cat ownership. But it made me pause and think, what a precious thing that we are called to as parents. We get to influence and impact them in ways that we don’t even think about.
The impact of parents seems to escalate in times of crisis. Of course, I am only speaking anecdotally here, because it has been true in my life. I remember precisely how my parents responded to the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. There are many moments in my childhood I don’t remember at all. But 9/11 is burned into my mind. They responded with prayer. They could have done many things, but chose, instead, to talk to us about what was going on. They decided to get together with God’s people to pray for the leaders and all affected. Even today, my first instinct is to pray, to think about those who are affected. It’s also trying to feel the weight of our leaders and crying out to God on their behalf.
Today, we face a similar decision, a unique opportunity to impact our children. Unfortunately, the Christian response has varied drastically. What do you want your kids to reflect back and think about? Some may think: I don’t remember their tears or their prayers, but I remember their politicizing, their complaining, and their anger. Do you want them to think: my parents made a killing off toilet paper sales! Let it not be. We, as a family, are far from perfect, but we are trying to use it as an opportunity with our young children. When our governor comes on the screen, we don’t mention politics or differences. Instead, we tell our kids, “look, that’s the governor of Michigan, she’s making another announcement trying to protect us. Let’s pray for her and all those people on the screen.” We tell them that God has placed people in positions like that for our good.
What About You?
What are you trying to teach your kids, not only explicitly but by your response? Use this as an opportunity to form them into the image of Jesus Christ. Live in such a way that you can say with the apostle Paul, “Follow me, as I follow Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Maybe then they will watch things, and draw connections on how to love others well, not just how to avoid cats. That’s our prayer.