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Are you worried that you’ll do everything you can raising your kids in the faith and yet when they’re an adult they’ll walk away from it?
There’s no more important mission field we face than raising our children to adore God. You could be a hero of the faith, but that’s meaningless if you neglect to parent well. No pressure, right.
I think we tend to fall into one of two categories. Either we are oblivious to that fact, or we know it but are totally overwhelmed by it.
So how about a third option. How about we take some time to scope out the target and walk with one another to get there. Parenting is one area where knowledge is not enough. And anyone who chooses to step onto the path of raising God-loving kids will fail sometimes. We need each other, friends.
Like grace, parenting is an opportunity for us light the way for each other with the wisdom we gain along the way.
Christian Parenting: Lighting the Way
I’ve been so blessed this summer to teach some workshops on Christian parenting. So many lights shining, so much wisdom shared.
The primary material my workshops are based on is a lovely book called Raising Children to Adore God. My sister discovered this book years ago and did that light shining thing I mentioned above, sharing it with me.
Don’t you love it when God points you to the same thing again and again? I think it’s kind of cool. While preparing my workshops, I came across an article by a Christian mom whose child left their faith as a young adult. Her advice for parents was strikingly similar to the book I was reading. Makes me think maybe this is valuable wisdom we should take note of.
Can we get the basics out of the way, first?
It’s kind of duh thing to say, but we have to steep our life in Scripture. We need to be believers ourselves, and maturing believers at that. How can we expect from our kids what we aren’t willing to do ourselves?
Beyond that, consistency between what we say we believe and how we live is essential. One of the primary reasons teens who leave their faith give is “hypocrisy”.
Newsflash here mom and dad: Your kids live with you. They see everything.
They see what you watch, and know what you let them watch. Are your rules consistent? They notice that too. They hear what comes out of your mouth. All the time. Is it respectful? Is it kind? Is it pure?
Feeling guilty yet? Let me remind you that we all fail. And here’s the most important part–It’s OK to fail. What truly matters is how you handle your failures. Hypocrisy is acting like you didn’t mess up, like you have it all together.
Mom, your kids know you don’t have it all together. Own it.
Those are kind of the basics. Have a faith. Live your faith. But if we want our kids to grow their own lifelong faith, there is more we can do. The fact that these things were echoed in a variety of places makes me want to sit up and take notice.
Surround Your Children with Godly Friends
When your children are young, you have a lot of control over their friends. Utilize it in teaching them how to make and be a friend. As they grow, pray for God to provide friends who point your child toward, not away, from Him. Then work actively to encourage those friendships.
It may feel good to be the center of your child’s world even when they’re a teenager, but that is not to their benefit. And frankly, it’s weird.
Be Active and Involved in Your Church
How you feel about your church will have tremendous influence on how your child feels about it. Do you speak positively about the leaders, or do they hear you constantly criticizing them? Are you active in serving, both individually and as a family? Is church a priority?
Allow Your Teens to Venture Outside Your ‘Bubble’
Listen, I get it. The bubble is nice. It’s safe, and our sweet babies are protected when they are surrounded by like-minded folks. But teenagers have got to experience life outside the bubble and learn to defend their faith. This is a prime opportunity for us as parents to apprentice them in this.
The alternative might feel nice for awhile, but ends in them being thrust out into the world on their own when they go to college or move out of your home. Wouldn’t you rather walk with them and guide them into adulthood?
Maintain Your Marriage
My husband and I read this in our current marriage book, and it sparked a lot of conversation,
Someone can have a dynamic speaking gift, or generously give to those in need, or appear to know a lot of Scripture, but if they have a terrible marriage, it raises questions. How can he treat his wife that way? Why is she so disrespectful to her husband?
Remember we talked about how your kids see everything? Well, they’re watching your marriage too. You can talk a good game about your faith, but they hear how you speak to your spouse at home.
Besides that, it has been proven time and again that healthy marriages build healthy families. Work on it. Don’t give up.
Maintain Your Own Christian Friendships
Not only will Godly friends be a blessing to you and your family, but once again it’s a way for you to live out your faith in front of your kids. You’re teaching them how to build and maintain friendships, resolve conflict, serve and grow together.
Pray as a Family
More than just at dinner. From the time your children are young, prayer can be a natural part of life. As they get older, it’s our job to both model what a healthy prayer life looks like, and provide them practice in it. Gracious practice. Not forced, stressful, bossy, practice. Pushing a child who is uncomfortable or uneasy to pray aloud may do more damage than good.
You know your child. Before you venture into praying with them, be sure to be praying for them. And for yourself. God is a good God, and if we ask Him for guidance in parenting, He will not abandon us. Promise.
Their Own Faith
Ultimately, our children will stand before God alone. They are first and foremost His children. We could do everything right and they may still choose to walk away from Him. That is their responsibility.
Our responsibility is to intentionally work to show them the all-surpassing goodness of our God and Father, and give them every reason to choose to follow Him with us.
How are you helping your children grow a faith that lasts?