Would your kids watch Hamilton?
Sam Donoghue reflects that parents already have the skills needed to make faith at home at work, they just don’t always realise it.
You will, I guess, have noticed that Hamilton the Musical is now available on Disney+. I bought into the hype and decided that despite it being almost three hours long I would watch it and, in a moment of bold ambition, get the kids to watch it too. Obviously this was high risk. My kids are ten and twelve, and although they have seen Matilda and Wicked in the theatre this was quite a step up.
However, as a parent in this situation I knew what to do. I needed to make it special. There would need to be popcorn and ice cream in the interval. I printed programs and we put cardboard up in all the windows of the lounge to make sure the room was totally dark when ‘house lights’ went down. The combined effect of all this was that the kids spent the week looking forward to the treats and arrived at the start of the show in a really positive place; rather than feeling like dad had taken control of the TV and now was making them watch just about the only think on Disney+ they wouldn’t like!
Clearly it doesn’t always go this well and I can think of a few times when making an extra effort just made the failure more frustrating when the kids didn’t buy in; but with a lot of help from a stunning show this one worked!
I wonder if it would have worked with your kids in the same way? I guess responses here would range from, at one end ‘my kids love musicals, they would just watch it’, to, at the other ‘my kids are not likely to sit still for 10 minutes let alone 3 hours and that’s without loading them with sugar!’ with most of us somewhere in the middle. So, for each of us the ‘how to get through the whole of Hamilton’ strategy will be different; we know our kids and know how to play these games.
The reason I share this is that I’m struck how easy it is to think this way in most areas of life, but we forget to when we think about praying with our with our kids. We can set ourselves up to fail. I want to encourage you to attack praying at home with the same flexibility you would any other family activity. Use your knowledge of your kids to judge how to do it in a way that will fly in your family. If your kids wouldn’t manage 10 minutes of Hamilton don’t try for thirty minutes sat still for prayer. Get outside and do an active prayer. With my kids we like to use food, so we’ll talk about God sat down over pancakes, but your kids might respond better to a darkened room and candle. You know your kids so make a judgement based on that, and have the confidence to follow your instinct as you probably know best.