Tea for Two: The discipleship of your sons and daughters
Her little hands hold the china pot carefully. Biting her lower lip, she pours the boiling water into our dainty cups and gives me a grin. This is big stuff. Soleil, my six year old, has been able to use my previously-forbidden tea set for the last year or so. She plops just one cube of sugar in and barely dips her tea bag before removing it. She’s basically going to drink hot sugar water. But I don’t care, because in the next forty five minutes, she’s going to share her heart with me and listen a little as I share some new things about our mighty God.
Tomorrow, her sister will have her turn. She likes her tea a little stronger, but still sweet. She’ll take a little longer to start sharing, but once she does…just try stopping her! She shares dreams, reflections, answered prayers. She is so excited when God shows her something and often jumps up from the table to get her prayer journal and share it with me.
Every week, each of my girls has an appointment with me for tea time. In the past, their tea time was the same day every week, and we would do it before we started school in the mornings. Since I started the workbox system, I now just make sure I add a tea time note to their box each week. This special time has become one of my favorite times, and theirs, too.
I think the girls appreciate the one-on-one time and I love hearing about what God is doing in their hearts. Surely, this is something you can do with boys, too. Maybe a manly tea pot and mugs, or even milk and cookies would be preferred at a certain age, but the routine of having a regular time set aside just for you is a priceless. Boy or girl. My girls know they are not to interrupt while their sis is having tea with me. I usually keep little sister busy with a project. Coco can keep herself busy. That doesn’t mean that they don’t chip in from time to time with a comment from the other room. But for the most part, they respect each other’s time and stay out of the kitchen.
Wouldn’t you like to set aside a little time each week to focus wholly on each of your kids, and more specifically, God’s work in their lives? I didn’t have a solid plan when I started this routine, but this is what it has turned into.
1. We pray
I ask my girl if she’d like prayer especially for any specific thing. Even though we share all our days, I am sometimes surprised at what is fresh in their minds. For a grandparent to have a good day, or for a friend to be more loving. I then pray for them and their week. Often, they’ll pray for me, too.
2. We chat
We pour our tea and usually enjoy a small treat. I told them when we first started that we might not always have a snack on hand. Yet, there is always something. Sometimes it is just a slice of toast with cinnamon sugar on it cut into a heart shape. While we drink our tea, we just talk for a while. My girls are both big talkers, so this is their time to shine.
3. For Soleil, I read a story
We have a couple of books that I read from, and then we ask each other questions. The focus is most often either on who God is, or who we are in Christ. We like Just Mom and Me Having Tea (but all I use from it are the stories). Sometimes I’ll read right out of the Bible.
4. For Coco, I will ask her…
“What has your quiet time been like?” She is working her way through a couple of devotional books and Bible studies, and she’ll share with me what she’s learning. Sometimes, she’ll have questions. Often, she’ll share prayers God has put on her heart or scriptures He’s shown her in answer to prayer. We talk a lot about His will.
5. I’ll offer my two cents
While our time isn’t super-structured, I will usually end up sharing a story or an insight that relates to what we’ve talked about. I didn’t actually think of it this way until I went to write this post, but God has been so faithful to bless my mind during these times. I try to listen more than I speak, and towards the end there is usually something I can say that encourages my girls, or helps them find an answer. Always, we end up at how to live for Christ daily.
Tea Time Tips:
Don’t have an agenda. Once in a while, I’ll have a specific plan, like creating a morning routine. But that is very rare. More often, I come with no expectations other than to let the girls share their hearts. There are plenty of opportunities in a normal day to direct, teach, and prompt with questions. Tea time isn’t about that. It’s about listening, and then gently guiding as the Lord leads.
Keep it simple. This way you will be more likely to repeat it every week. Every once in a while, we’ll have a “celebratory tea,” complete with a tablecloth, multiple treats, and fancy decorations. Our regular tea time is pretty simple. Just us, the tea set, a small snack, and our Bibles.
Tune-out distractions. I don’t answer my phone or anything else during tea, unless it’s my husband. Usually, I will call him before hand to say hi and see if there’s anything he needs. Then I can tell him, “Ok I’m off to tea with Coco now, so I’ll talk to you later.”
Occupy younger siblings before-hand. I think this is one of those times a short video would be a perfect distraction! Setting up an independent project or task is another way to cut down on interruptions. Another trick is to let your younger children have their time before the older sibling. Then you can praise “how nice big sister is being, letting us have this time. Isn’t that so kind of her? I know you’ll be just as kind when it’s her turn for tea!”
Enjoy yourself. Yes, this is all about the kids. But the fact is, if you’re bored or checking your watch, your kids will sense that and they’ll begin to dread it, too. If you say often, “Ooh! I can’t wait for our tea time!” and show them how much you enjoy spending time with them, they’ll have a better time.
Be creative. For our first tea time, I sent an invitation to each girl. I often say that invitations just make everything more fun. The girls could hardly wait. Sometimes, I’ll put a tea bag in their workbox, or cut out a card in the shape of a tea pot that says, “Time for tea!” Other times I’ll just wake them in the morning and the table will already be set so when they come out, they’re surprised.
One of the many blessings of being a mom is that you get to be the person to teach your children how awesome our God is! Don’t you just love it?