Giving My Kids a Safe Place to Fall

Wriggling out of Mom's arms...

I used to sing lullabies, and every night Marilee still hears “Close Your Eyes” or “Sleep My Child” when she goes to bed. Penny and William have graduated, of their own doing, and now they want me to sing “church songs.” It started at Christmas, when we went through three months of singing “Hark the Herald,” “Joy to the World,” and “Silent Night.” Somehow we moved from their to “plain church songs.”

Any song that has to do with Jesus fits the bill, from contemporary worship to ancient hymn to liturgical chant. I go from “Holy, Holy ,Holy” to “Shout to the Lord” to “Be Thou My Vision.” William usually asks questions along the way: “What grace mean, Mom?” Or, “can you sing the one about being lost?” (by which he means “Amazing Grace”). Penny works hard to memorize the words and I will often overhear her murmuring lines as she looks out the window or we go for a walk, everything from “dip your heart in the stream of life” to “merciful and mighty.” Her favorite song is “He Knows My Name,” a simple song about Gods knowledge and love for us. She knows that one by heart, and I always smile when I hear her singing: “before even time began, my life was in His hand.” William’s favorite is “Shelter,” about God’s faithful protection of us, generation by generation.

The snippets of theology sung or questioned by my children don’t convince me that they have “accepted Jesus into their hearts,” or that they will grow up without doubts or that they will keep going to church all their lives. But it does give me hope that the words are leaving an imprint on their hearts.

They may very well walk away, whether as teenagers or adults, from this childhood faith we are trying to pass along. My goal is not to dictate what they believe or to think that if we do it right they will conform to our desires. I just want to lay out a net for them, in hopes that later in life, when they discover suffering or betrayal or heartache, they will have a safe place to fall. When they find themselves in need, when they find themselves in pain, when they feel that their life is falling part, I pray that they will land in the arms of a God who has and does and will love them. Who is their shelter. Who knows their name.

About Amy Julia Becker

Amy Julia Becker writes and speaks about family, faith, disability, and culture. A graduate of Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary, she is the author of Penelope Ayers: A Memoir, A Good and Perfect Gift (Bethany House), and Why I Am Both Spiritual and Religious (Patheos Press).


  1. Your reference to “He Knows My Name” brought tears to my eyes. My 9-yr-old son knows that song from Friendship Group, a group he goes to for special needs people. The other day I was listening to it on Youtube in preparation for doing it with our worship team at church on Sunday. My son rushed into the room shouting “Friendship Group!” and stood raptly listening to the song. I had to replay it several times for him that day and he was so excited, anticipating the words before they came: “He sees!” “Call!”
    That song means so much to me because it reminds me that no life is an accident or a mistake — it’s all good and it’s all God. I hadn’t realized it meant so much to my son too.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you Jeannie and Amy Julia for sharing. I just wrote a blog post about the song He Knows your Name. I was so touched when my dear friend from church heard the words to this song. It held such deep and special meaning to her. She, too, has special needs.

      • That’s a wonderful post too. I just love the coincidence — oops God-incidence — of all these references to the same song.

  2. Amy Julia, I sang my kids to sleep with those songs when they were infants and on into toddlers. I can still remember my son getting drowsy in my arms, but if I finished a song before he dropped off he’d sleepily murmur “Love you Lord” to cue me for the next one.
    “I love you Lord, and I lift my voice …”
    P.S. The kids are both home from college now (son just graduated, woo-hoo!). My son is directing the day camp at church this summer and my daughter is one of his counselors. They will both be going overseas for ministry this summer as well, South Africa for her and Vietnam for him. You never know how God will water the seeds you plant when the kids are young, AJ.

  3. “A safe place to fall”–what a wonderful heritage you are giving. And what a great reminder for what all of us need, at any age.