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'We Become Our Habits': Christian Author Encourages Dads to Focus on the Daily Routine

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Christian fathers who want to effectively parent their children should consider what might not be immediately obvious: the daily habits they develop around waking and sleeping, eating, conversing, and their phones.

That's the message that Christian author and attorney Justin Whitmel Earley has for dads as outlined in his book Habits of the Household: Practicing the Story of God in Everyday Family Rhythms.

"We become our habits and our children become us," Earley told CBN News in a recent interview. 

He says the daily routines we often unconsciously fall into deeply affect our children. "Our habits of the household are one of the most significant parts of our children's spiritual formation."

Earley examines 10 rhythms in the book: waking, mealtimes, discipline, screentime, family devotions, marriage, work, play, conversation, and bedtime.

He told CBN News, he did not think intentionally about all these areas in his early years of parenting his four boys. 

"I was regularly yelling my kids to bed in the evening and I was realizing that I had habits around the household, which despite anything else I taught them and said about God and the Bible and the Christian life, the feel of living with me was an entirely differing thing," he said.

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Earley explained that he wanted to focus on the quiet, ordinary patterns of life that he realized could either point his kids to Jesus or turn them away.

Earley says he now prioritizes mealtime as a centerpiece of family life. "The busy schedule is not the center of gravity of the household," he said. "The table should be the center of gravity because that means community is the center of gravity."

For Earley, that means no devices at mealtime and asking simple, specific questions of everyone. At bedtime, he advocates habitual prayers or blessings for children, and in the morning he emphasizes prayer first for parents. 

He has one habit that he recommends most strongly: putting away the phone for at least an hour a day. 

"The idea that I'm around my kids but not with them because I'm distracted by my screen, I think, is one of the major threats to so many dads and their children right now," he said. "When I get home from work, I'm going to take my phone, actually turn it off, and put it away for at least an hour because my kids deserve my presence, not just my body, but also my presence too."

Ultimately, parents' habits add up to discipleship says Earley, and he's hoping to model for his children what it means to follow Christ. 

"They're going to become more and more like a version of you, so paying attention to your habits of the household is first and foremost a way to say, 'How am I a disciple of Jesus?' And secondly, it's a way for them to actually follow in your footsteps of discipleship," said Earley.

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About The Author


Heather Sells covers wide-ranging stories for CBN News that include religious liberty, ministry trends, immigration, and education. She’s known for telling personal stories that capture the issues of the day, from the border sheriff who rescues migrants in the desert to the parents struggling with a child that identifies as transgender. In the last year, she has reported on immigration at the Texas border, from Washington, D.C., in advance of the Dobbs abortion case, at crisis pregnancy centers in Massachusetts, and on sexual abuse reform at the annual Southern Baptist meeting in Anaheim