5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
6 And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.
7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:5-7 (NKJV)
By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”
If you read last week’s column, I feel there’s a strong chance your babies have been in bed with you at least once in the past week. And I bet you’re wondering when and how they’ll ever move back to their own bunk.
Let’s take first things first. Of course, the kids will sleep in their own beds eventually. How many kids in junior high do you know who still sleep with their parents? I’m going to bet “none.” In practical terms, it doesn’t happen. So here’s what you have: Lots of kids sleeping with their parents when they’re little, and no kids sleeping with their parents in junior high school. So it follows that at some time they must have moved out of their parents’ beds in the interim.
Here’s my suggestion for how to help your children make the transition. When your kids get to a certain size, let them sleep in your room but move them onto a pallet on the floor. My wife Susan and I did this with our son, Spencer, when he turned 4. We made this transition largely because sleeping with Spencer was like sleeping with a mule – as in, “I saw stars when the mule kicked me in the jaw last night.” In preparing the pallet, we made sure it was adequate but not luxurious. Spencer slept on his pallet at the foot of our bed for a number of nights. Then he got up one morning and made a pronouncement which I’ll never forget. He said, “You know, it sure is hard to get up in the morning when you sleep on the floor.” That was his last night on the pallet, and ever since then he has slept in his own room on a comfortable Bemco mattress.
Susan and I speeded this transition by applying a universal principle of life. Behavior that is pleasant, comfortable and convenient is more likely to be repeated than behavior that is unpleasant, uncomfortable and inconvenient.
The wonderful thing is that this works on our kids, and it will work on us, too. Let’s say you want to make a New Year’s habit of having your family at Sunday School each and every Sunday. If you really want to have that happen, your odds of succeeding are much better if you set Sunday morning up to be pleasant, comfortable and convenient. Go to bed a little earlier so everyone wakes up happier. Have your clothes pressed and laid out the night before so all you have to do is put them on. Serve a Continental breakfast of things your family likes to eat – things that take no time to prepare. Make getting to Sunday School a pleasant thing to do, and you’ll probably end up there!
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” (Sing that to the tune of “Secret Agent Man.”) He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas and is beginning his third decade of being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 17) and Seth (age 14) live int he parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where they now only make pallets when a lot of company comes to visit). You should write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.