“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” Matthew 16:24 (NRSV)

Today marks the beginning of Lent, and Christians all over the world will reflect on and remember the Lord’s sacrifice and passion. It is a season of introspection and preparation for Easter or “Resurrection Sunday.” Many of us are going to deny ourselves by giving up something so we can shift our focus to the spiritual realm and strengthen our relationship with God. People are going to fast from certain foods, entertainment such as TV or the internet, social media, etc.

As a result, I’ve come up with a list of things parents can do during this Lenten season to strengthen their relationship with God and their children. It is by no means exhaustive, but I hope it will give you some good ideas of what you can do with your families.

Abstain from the screen time when engaging your children.

Today’s technology has created so many distractions. It is very rare to see someone without an iPad, cellphone, tablet or laptop in their hands. This is also true when it comes to parenting. You’ll see moms and dads at the playground engrossed in their cell phones while their children play. We’ve become distracted parents. During this Lenten season, let’s deny ourselves by giving our children our complete attention. Let’s give them our eye contact and engage them in their everyday behavior. I’m certain this will help strengthen parenting bonds over the season and will help facilitate healthy behaviors and interactions.

Abstain from yelling and criticism.

Since we’ve become so distracted in today’s society, it creates the illusion of busyness and the importance of mundane activities. As a result, we become less patient with our children. During this Lenten season, let’s practice the art of patience and understanding with our children. It is easy to respond in our flesh and lash out at children. It takes true self-denial to try and get understanding.

Turn off the TV and make time to teach children about Christ’s passion.

Jesus encouraged his followers to let the children come to him. He wanted the children to sit at his feet and learn because the Kingdom of God also belongs to them (Matthew 19:14). Let’s make time this season to strengthen the spiritual lives of our families and children by teaching them about Christ’s passion. Young children don’t have to be left out either. You can do creative activities such as coloring and painting projects. It will be a great way to foster a love for Jesus in your children.

Abstain from things of convenience such as fast food and technology.

Again, our children want our undivided attention and time. It is easy to grab something quick from Chick-fil-a and then send the children to bed. During this Lenten season, take time with your children by preparing a family meal with them. Teach them during your time in the kitchen. Sit down at the table as a family and give them much needed face-time with you. It’ll create a wonderful time for sharing and communicating.

What are your thoughts? What are you abstaining from during this season of Lent? How are you incorporating your children?

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