By Ruth DuCharme
A few weeks ago our family was sitting around the dinner table, and for some unknown reason we found ourselves talking about nursery rhymes. I mentioned the familiar child's song-game "The Farmer In the Dell," to which Chase replied, "I don't know that one." I reacted with shock that my sixteen-year-old son had never learned or played "The Farmer In the Dell." How did he make it through his years of childhood without learning this familiar song? I was mortified, and I began to wonder what else I had failed to teach him.
I have no memory of learning "The Farmer In the Dell." It was just part of my childhood. I am positive that my parents never sat me down to teach me the song, but I do remember singing it at school, at church, and at home. I guess that is how learning takes place for most young children. They don't have a memory of learning a particular song, verse, or idea. It just becomes a part of them.
This conversation got me thinking about the other things that I hope my children and all of our Highland Hills children have learned. I hope that they have learned the great hymns of our faith - hymns like "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee," "Blessed Assurance," and "Amazing Grace." I hope that they have learned scriptures that will sustain them throughout their lives - scriptures like John 3:16 and Psalm 23. I hope that they have learned the Lord's Prayer and the Doxology.
Our children probably won't remember that we sat them down and taught them these hymns, scriptures, and prayers, but they will know them. They will know them because they have heard them over and over in Sunday School and worship. They will know them because as parents we have spoken these words in our homes.
The religious nurture that we provide our children takes place in ways that are hard to pinpoint. It takes place when we are faithful to engaging our children in spiritual education. It takes place when we participate as a family in worship. It takes place when we pray together as families. Children absorb the words and thoughts of our spiritual practices, and these practices will stay with them for a lifetime.
Our children are only children for a short period of time. Let's teach them all that we can while they are young. Play a game of "The Farmer In the Dell" with them. Say the Lord's Prayer together. Sing a favorite hymn. The learning will take place, and you won't look back one day and think about the things that you have forgotten to teach them.