Here are five ways to help parents pass on faith to their children.
How do your kids’ parents view you? Are you the baby sitter they leave their kids with before driving off? Are you the entertainer who’s expected to show their kids a fun time or else they will find somewhere else to go? Or are you their kids’ spiritual leader, the only source of faith building they receive?
According to the Barna Research Group, a majority of parents “do not spend any time during a typical week discussing religious matters or studying religious materials with their children.” Parents who take their children to church with them tend to rely on the church to do the heavy lifting spiritually.
The truth is that you should just be one part of parents’ plans to strengthen their kids in the area of God and faith. Many churches are turning their children’s ministry into family ministries, and I can see why. We should make it our goal to help parents be strong leaders of faith in their households. With that in mind, here are five steps you can take to help parents take the lead role in their kids’ spiritual lives.
The Barna research went on to say that only one out of every five parents of children under 13 has been contacted by a leader in the church to talk about their child’s spiritual life. We need to reach out to parents! This doesn’t mean signing them up to volunteer. Hold events that parents want to participate in as well, like family movie nights or parent/child days out. Invite parents into your ministry, let them know who you are, and get to know them. By making connections with you and with other parents, adults will feel more comfortable.
Many parents don’t realize how to pass their faith and values on to their kids. Focus on the Family and the Heritage Builders provide many great tips for parents. They suggest that parents look for “AROMA” in their households: Affection, Respect, Order, Merriment, and Affirmation. Explain to parents that their household should be a loving place where a discussion about God and faith could happen at any time. Remind parents that they can turn anything, from listening to the radio to talking at dinner, into a time to build kids up spiritually.
Continuing with the Barna research, the study says that, “Parents are not so much unwilling to provide more substantive training to their children as they are ill-equipped to do such work. According to the research, parents typically have no plan for the spiritual development of their children; they do not consider it a priority, have little or no training in how to nurture a child’s faith, have no related standards or goals that they are seeking to satisfy, and experience no accountability for their efforts.”
Many parents want to make a difference, but aren’t sure how to start. We need to provide support to help them build up their kids’ faith. Talk with parents and find out their needs. Let parents know what you’re teaching, and help them supplement the lesson at home. Give suggestions on where parents can turn to find positive resources.
Kids don’t just look like their parents; they act like them as well. Kids will often pick up on their parents’ habits. A recent study looked at how parents can help overweight kids. Some parents changed their kids’ diets, while others took their kids to clinics and camps. But the kids who lost the most weight were those who had parents who lost weight themselves. The kids were inspired by their parents’ physical activity.
I believe the same goes for spiritually active parents. It will rub off on children. Remind parents that they are the ultimate role models for kids. You can’t live by “do as I say, not as I do.” Challenge parents to set an example that they want their kids to live by.
Always give encouragement to your parents. It can be tough raising kids, and you can be there for parents by praying for them and supporting them. Remind them about Proverbs 22:6, “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”Also remind them of the message of Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.”
By working with parents, we can make a huge impact on the lives of our kids. I want to know how you partner with parents to help them be their children’s spiritual leaders. Share with us your tips, strategies, and stories! Leave your comments below.
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