Today I had a discussion with a Godly, wise man about what we teach our children at a very young age about the character/nature of God. His point was that many of the standard Sunday School stories we tell children have become moralisms that can reinforce a legalistic or works based world view as opposed to teaching the grace of God.
This was a timely conversation for me. I have been really working with R on how he handles difficult situations. He is my hair-trigger tantrum guy. If things are going his way he is the dearest love you will ever meet--loving, kind, considerate. If he does not get his way it is an entirely different story. He jumps up and down, stomps his feet and shrieks before falling into a puddle on the ground. We have been working on the "right way" to handle situations by using our words and a respectful, polite tone of voice. This morning he handled a difficult situation beautifully. As I was lavishing him in praise for "doing the right thing" he said, "I did the wight thing. Mommy is pwoud of me and God is sooo happy."
I cringed just a little because although I do want him to think of his good deeds and obedience as pleasing to God, I am mindful that it is a VERY fine line in his 3 year old mind between wanting to honor God with his little life and beginning to believe he can/must earn God's favor.
Grace is such a difficult subject for grown ups to comprehend, how can we start to lay appropriate foundations at a 3 year old level?
I was a communications major in college, so I am mindful of the metamessages we send as parents, that is the message within our message that we are often unintentionally communicating. I want to be intentional about and responsible with the message of the Gospel with my children...but I am starting to feel overwhelmed at the task.
I am working on unconditional love with them. I tell them frequently that nothing they could ever do would make God or their Daddy & I love them any more or less. But as to what comes next...I am unsure. Like so many of you, I take my role and responsibility in leading them to the Lord seriously, but I am confused about how far to go with concepts without confusing them more.
Am I overthinking this? Anyone have any great resources they might recommend or tips?