To delight in something means to find great pleasure in it. 

Children are wired to delight. Have you been around small children lately? Spend the day with my two-year-old, and you’ll quickly re-enter the realm of easy delight: This girl squeals at every single dog she sees, each time her Papa enters a room and every time she pops a fruit snack in her mouth. She can’t help but be overwhelmed by joy.

Called to a life of delight

I think this is what God is after when He tells us to delight in him (Psalm 37:4)— that we would be so enthralled and awed by Him that all else fades away. 

A life of delight begins from a place of correct understanding— of who we are and who God is.

When I rightly recognize who I am (a hopeless sinner) and who God is (gracious and merciful in his rescuing salvation), thanksgiving pours forth. My lens changes from one of entitlement to one of praise. 

Every day, every joy— even every challenge— becomes something given from the hand of the Creator, feeding my delight in his grace and goodness. 

As parents, we should work to cultivate a sense of wonder in our children so they’re able to see God for who he is. The digital world they’re growing up in works hard to capture their attention, so we must work harder.

Tech makes delight difficult

According to research, our kids are spending up to 9 hours a day on technology. This number refers to what we call “drool tech”— it’s passive. It requires nothing of us except to tell Netflix, “Yes, I’m still watching.” 

As we embed ourselves in this digital dopamine cycle, we (and our children) numb ourselves to reality and therefore compromise our ability to delight.

Drool tech does this in three ways:

1. It’s self-focused. 

Drool tech is designed to indulge the individual— which is the opposite of how Christ calls us to live.  

There are certainly great corners of the internet, but much of it is designed to entertain and indulge the individual and promote an attitude of self-importance. 

Christ calls us, instead, to “count others as more significant” than ourselves and consider their needs above our own (Philippians 2).

2. It provides instant gratification. 

Likes, views, and clicks all happen now. Games, videos, and shopping happen now

In an attention economy, waiting means I’m moving on and that’s the last thing content creators want. 

Does instant gratification help us grow in the fruit of the Spirit— in patience?

Consider the stillness, waiting and otherness we see modeled by Jesus. He waited over 30 years to start his public ministry, constantly put others ahead of himself, and withdrew to hear from and plead with God.

3. It contributes to a frenzied, hurried state of mind. 

Research indicates being constantly engaged with screens negatively impacts our ability to transition between thoughts and tasks. How many of us— how many of our kids— live in an almost-constant state of chaos and frenzy?

When this state of mind becomes the norm, we struggle to be still before God and wait patiently on him. 

This mindset and way of living is antithetical to walking with Christ.

How many of us— how many of our kids— live in an almost-constant state of chaos and frenzy?

Practical ways we can reclaim wonder

So how can we reclaim wonder in our homes? How can we create opportunities for our kids to delight in God?

1. Begin with the end in mind. 

If we’re just surviving and living day to day, we’ll hand over the iPad or switch on the TV every single time. Tech is the easiest option. 

Evaluate your goals as a parent. How do your day to day activities move you toward those goals?

Creating opportunities for wonder often requires preparation; not a lot, but some. It means packing little snacks and crayons and table games, maybe a deck of cards, and being ready to engage, too.

So take the time to pray and process— figure out what your goals are and why. Allow that big picture to guide your choices from day to day.

2. Get them outside. 

“As the young spend less and less of their lives in natural surroundings, their senses narrow, and this reduces the richness of human experience,” writes Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods

But the Attention Restoration Theory tells us that, “in natural environments, we practice an effortless type of attention known as soft fascination that creates feelings of pleasure, not fatigue.” 

Our brains and our bodies are designed for time outside. Children especially thrive when we allow them this opportunity. It doesn’t have to be grand or complicated, but prioritize time outdoors in creation.

3. Wonder with them. 

We can’t preach screen-free time while scrolling through Facebook.

Model for your kids how to delight in the Lord and in his handiwork. Practice times of turning off phones, of leaving them at home, and do it together. 

As you notice the marvels of creation, science, and the human body, point them out. Help your kids connect them to God as the Creator and Sustainer of all things.

Opportunities to delight and wonder don’t have to be grandiose. It’s easy (and wonderful) to be awe-struck while standing in the waves of the ocean or on the edge of the Grand Canyon. But you can declare the handiwork of God if you spend a few minutes outside in the evening watching as the stars pop out, too.

Learning to delight in the ordinary moments of the day means allowing some space for boredom. It means pushing through when the kids start complaining. 

Remember your why: We’re not asking them to put down the iPad in hopes of earning the parenting gold star. We’re after their hearts. Part of our job as parents is to help cultivate and maintain the sense of wonder our children have. In doing so, we get to point them to Jesus.