DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: Every year, we say we’re going to try to keep our children’s attention focused on the real meaning of Christmas, but then all our good intentions go out the window once the holiday approaches. Is it hopeless to keep trying? — E.M.
No, it’s not hopeless — and even if it seems difficult, I believe it’s important to keep trying. After all, if your children don’t learn the true meaning of Christmas at home, where will they learn it in today’s world? They probably won’t.
At the same time, be sure you take into account their ages and attention spans. Children don’t necessarily respond to long Bible readings or extended prayers; they may even rebel against them if we aren’t careful. Instead, you may want to take a few minutes each day to focus on one truth about Jesus and one fact about his birth. Simply but clearly teach your children who Jesus was and why he came into the world. Underline, too, that Jesus came because God loves us and wants us to be part of his family forever — and we will be, as we ask Jesus to come into our hearts.
Remember that the greatest “teacher” your children will ever have isn’t only our words, but our lives. Do we tell them Jesus is important to us, but then act as if he isn’t? Do we become so preoccupied with shopping and other activities this time of year that they conclude this must be all there is to Christmas?
Christmastime gives parents a great opportunity to help their children discover who Jesus is and what he wants to do for them. Remember the Bible’s promise: “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6).