Today’s parents are different; you need these 5 keys to open up faith-building at home. Use these tools to understand them–and help them pass on their faith to their children.
Erin, a single mom, has three daughters, ages 8, 12, and 22. Her oldest daughter is in college more than 1,000 miles away. Her youngest two are in elementary school, and they spend one week a month with their father, who lives across town. Erin stays in touch with all her kids frequently throughout the day through texts and phone calls. She’s close with all her children and considers them her best friends. They give her input on everything from what clothes to wear to what apartment to rent, and she offers them on-the-spot coaching on their school and life issues whenever they need it. She hasn’t seen her oldest daughter in six months, and her two youngest go directly from school to after-school care until Erin picks them up at 7:30 in the evening after work. On an average weekday, Erin spends about two waking hours with her younger daughters.
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As you consider Erin’s life and relationships with her children, also consider the typical experiences of a mom two decades ago. Then, more moms stayed at home, families were more likely to fit into a cookie cutter shape, and parenting philosophies were much different.
A lot has changed.
Today’s parents have different views and expectations of their relationships with their children. They have different demands and pressures on their professional and personal lives. They have different social experiences. They believe different things about what it means to raise children. They have technologies that facilitate relationships and communication that most people couldn’t imagine 20 years ago.
So how do you effectively equip this generation of parents to become the spiritual influencers in their children’s lives? You start by getting up-close and personal with the parents in your ministry, and then by creating a custom, quality-built ministry that equips and honors them.
Today’s homes are radically different.
Our children’s homes today look a lot different than they used to. Today the divorce rate hovers near 50 percent, and a growing number of children live with only one parent. Most households have two people working full time to keep them afloat. Families come in all shapes, sizes, and combinations imaginable. These changes in family makeup have also changed the way parents respond to their kids’ ever-expanding mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
Parents, especially single ones, are often exhausted. It can be overwhelming to do it–caring for children (and sometimes aging parents, too), managing a home, and trying to squeeze in some kind of personal life. It’s no wonder that parents today get discouraged, spend a lot of time feeling guilty, and may even be tempted to give up. You likely have kids and parents in your ministry who are irritable and stressed from all the pressures they face.
What to Do: Ministry to today’s parents is as important as ministry to their children. Your best tool is your ability to encourage. Continuously encourage parents to not give up. Encourage them to take advantage of the time they have with their kids. Encourage their daily efforts to care for and mentor their children. Encourage parents to use their lives as the best examples of their faith for their children.
Don’t pressure parents to take on involved projects, lessons, or “homework” to build kids’ faith; it sets parents up to fail when they don’t have the time or energy to follow through. Simply remind parents that every moment they have with their children is a moment they can use to point their children toward Jesus. Parents today carry around enough guilt because they feel stretched too thin and think their children are paying the price. Parents need reassurance–not more activities or expectations–from you.