My wife and I welcomed our first child into the world on June 21st. Josiah James made his entrance at 6:16pm and our lives have not been the same ever since. Through the joy, amazement, frustration, chaos, etc. we have had a fantastic time of learning how to be parents of this little guy.
Through the journey before he arrived we made a decision that we wanted to have some practices in place when he arrived so that we could start forming habits in his life from Day 1. These practices also were to create habits in our lives to first and foremost know that we were on the same page as a married couple and parents, and to put some habits in our lives as parents in order to best shepherd our son. I just finished the book The Shepherd Leader at Home by Timothy Witmer and one quote that stuck out in this book that helps to sum up why my wife and I have already begun forming habits in our lives as parents in our hope that Josiah creates them in his life is this:
You as their earthly dad are laying the foundation for their relationship with their heavenly Father. You are their first exposure to a relationship of authority in the world.
Here are some of the habits that we have begun to form from the first days.
1. Reading the Bible and Daily Devotions with Josiah
We have The Jesus Storybook Bible and spend time each morning or evening going through a story or two in the Bible. We also have a children’s devotional that we read with him as well. After we read with him we spend only a few seconds after praying with him about what we’ve just heard from God’s Word and that Jesus would reveal Himself to us through these words. Obviously my 30 day old son cannot understand the words or the meaning, but we are instilling this practice in our daily lives and rhythm now so that when life gets even busier we will continue to make it the priority, and he will hopefully some day run up to us with his Bible reminding us that it is story time.
Being avid readers both my wife and I, our family and friends gave us a large amount of books as gifts. We have already enjoyed spending time throughout each day reading to Josiah some of the classics like The Hungry Caterpillar (he always cries at Saturday) and Brown Bear Brown Bear. Again, why read to someone that can’t comprehend or even enjoy the funny colors yet? It puts the habit in place now and shows it is a value to us and hopefully to him someday. In fact, literally within days of his birth the American Academy of Pediatrics came out recommending that pediatricians recommend to their patients they read to their children beginning from birth due to the discovered research of the benefits it has their lives.
3. Watching How and What We Say Around Josiah
Our son still is not impressionable or able to comprehend what we are saying at one month, but he can understand tones. And what I say and how I say it to my wife matters regardless of whether or not my son can understand it. I want to always honor my wife with my words, but I especially want to do that around Josiah. I also want to be God-honoring in all that I say, again considering the quote above that I am laying the foundation for his relationship with his heavenly Father. What we say and how we say it matters, even now.
4. Prioritizing My Wife First
This will be the hardest, but the most important as time goes on. It is the easiest to push to the back burner for the sake of kid’s activities, but we have been intentional over the first six years of marriage to have a weekly date night and making time for one another. I’m not going to stop that habit in our marriage now, even for the cutest kid in the whole world. I love my wife and I have worked too hard to just stop caring for her and making her my priority. I’m not too naive to realize the difficulty of that statement, but I know the statistics of marriage and I have made a covenant with my bride. I’ve also through that covenant included my kids to show them what a God-honoring husband looks like and model that for them. I want my son to respect women beginning with what he sees in how I respect and treat my wife.
These are the habits that we are attempting to practice and form in our son’s life from Day One. What habits have you put in your life as parents? What would you recommend to us to include as first time parents? Our hope through everything is to point our son towards Christ and for him to see his heavenly Father through all that we do and say to him and to each other.