What If the Children Are Very Young?
Several specific situations commonly prompt questions about the feasibility of family worship. One such “But what if . . . ?” relates to having young children.
In this case, you may need to exercise an extra measure of both discipline and patience. Part of the discipline may be to teach them to stay in a certain place—such as by their mother, or in a particular spot—and to be quiet during the few moments of family worship. Part of the patience required is persevering with the practice of family worship even when the children don’t stay in place or remain quiet.
Most children want to play and not to pay attention during family worship, at least not for very long. Since young children cannot concentrate or understand at the same level as older children, families whose children are all quite small should aim for only a very short time of family worship. As much as possible, accommodate what you read and what you sing to their ages. At the very least, in these fast, growing years you will begin to make lasting impressions upon them about the habit and the value of family worship in your home.
So even if you have a child who is fifteen months old and doesn’t even know what you are saying, be assured that the child is learning. If we could put his or her infant thoughts into adult language, they might be something like this: I don’t know what it is we do here every night—Dad reads things I don’t understand from a big book, then everyone closes their eyes and talks, and after that everyone sings (I like that part)— but whatever it is, it must be important, because we do it every night.
In other words, even when a child cannot grasp the content of what you read, pray, and sing, at the very least the child is beginning to learn that family worship is an important part of the rhythm of your day. Not only that, the child will also grow up believing that family worship is a normal part of life in the home, and as an adult won’t need a book like this one to teach him or her about the priority of family worship or how to conduct it.
Through discipline and patience, you’ll establish a treasured tradition for your family which may continue for generations.