never use a child's bedtime as punishment
Are you glad for the chance to put your child to bed? Is this a great time for you and your kids or is it serious business? Is it a time in your day you look forward to, or do you have to grit your teeth to face the struggle? Bedtime is a terrific opportunity for us and our children. Spending just a few minutes with each of our children at bedtime can offer us the chance to really connect with them in ways that during the day, which is often hectic, it is much more difficult.
I love bedtime. Not just the expectation of peace and quiet after they?re asleep, but the opportunities for meaningful conversations that so often arise. When bedtime rolls around, my kids will do anything to stay up later. A function of this is everything that they said or did that hasn?t come up during the day will come out. A lot of times this is when the most insightful questions, problems they may be facing, or just funny things that happened to them pop up. This is a great opportunity for me to hear about many important aspects of their lives that I might otherwise miss. It?s also the perfect time to discuss these things in a quiet private setting. It gives me the chance to do some real parenting. I can take these opportunities to teach them about life, about God?s purpose, and about their purpose.
On every birthday my girls try to negotiate a new (later) bedtime. They aren?t always successful but when I?m deciding on a bedtime I always make it a half-hour earlier than they really need to be in bed. Then I tell them they can read for a half-hour before finally turning out the light. This accomplishes two goals. They think they?re getting away with something, and more importantly, it allows me time with each of them. I don?t feel rushed, or that I?m keeping them up too late. Some nights we can take up to half of their reading time talking about their day.
We need to remember not to use this time as a reminder of poor behavior that may have happened during the day. There are plenty of other opportunities for that. This is a time to clean the slate for the day, to listen, and set an optimistic tone for the new day. It is a time for forgiveness and for soothing hurts. You children will feel safe and secure in your love, and you will feel at peace as well.
Since my girls were very young we have said our nightly prayers together. This is another opportunity to teach our children about God, his love, and his place in our lives. I also give each of my girls a blessing every night. This is so important to them that when they are away they call at night to receive their blessing over the phone. This is the blessing I use:
?Oh gracious and heavenly Father, I thank you for my daughter/son (first, middle, and last name) whom I love more than anything. Please send your angels down from heaven to watch over her/him tonight, until tomorrow. In Jesus? precious name I pray. Amen.
I understand the pressures of today?s world. Two jobs, working late, meetings, and important household tasks. It is sometimes difficult to be there at bedtime for your children. We all have to make our own choices about this. Please ask yourself if the choice to be at your children?s side during these short, precious, and critically important moments is the right one? As parents we have a profound effect on our children in those last moments of the day. I know the last thing I want my girls to remember before they drift off to sleep is how much I love them, and how much they love me!
About the author: Russell Turner is the father of a 10 year old diabetic daughter. After she was diagnosed he soon discovered he could find all sorts of medical information on the internet. What he couldn't find was how to prepare his child and family for living with this disease. He started his own website for parents of newly diagnosed diabetic children http://www.mychildhasdiabetes.com