...your kids are worth it!
Surveys have shown that, when asked, teens list their parents as the most significant religious influences in their lives. A survey done by the Barna Research Group (May 2003) revealed that 85% of parents of children under age 13 believe they have the primary responsibility for teaching their children about religious beliefs and spiritual matters, and 96% believe it’s their job to teach their children values.
However, Christian Smith and Melinda Denton in Soul Searching: the Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers found “the vast majority of [teenagers] to be incredibly inarticulate about their faith, their religious beliefs and practices, and its meaning or place in their lives” (p. 131). Why, if parents are considered by teens as most influential in their faith development and parents see themselves as the primary communicators of that faith, are teens today unable to articulate their faith, beliefs and its practices?
Smith and Denton suggest one reason is that the significant adults in their lives are unable to clearly articulate their own beliefs. David Anderson in Building Faith at Home, states, “while it’s good we all desire our teenagers have a strong faith, the reality is that what we see in our teenagers’ faith is simply a mirror image of our faith. So the issue is not their faith, but our faith.” (p. 39) Related research by Barna Research Online revealed that a majority of parents do not spend any time during a typical week discussing religious matters or studying religious materials with their children (Barna Research Online). “When it comes to talking about faith, praying together, reading the Bible in the home or doing devotions as a family, these practices simply aren’t happening.“ (p. 17 Mark Holmen Building Faith at Home).
If we want our children to have a faith that influences the way they live their lives then we need to begin by living out our faith with our children, this “can be as simple as listening and talking with each other…. making our faith available to them as a source for their learning and growing”. (p. 27 John Westerfhof Bringing up Children in the Christian Faith) .
God calls Christian parents to nurture the faith of their children. Read Deuteronomy 6:4 – 25. When and how often do you share with your children why and how knowing God makes a difference in the way you life? Is God a part of your everyday family life and conversation: as you sit, walk, read, think, play, eat, get up and go down? Is your home a place where God lives and breathes? Does the sign on your doorpost say, “God Lives Here”? Perhaps it’s time to have a “faith at home” check-up. Your kids’ faith is worth the effort!