Is pushing our faith down our kids throats keeping them from having real faith of their own?

This is a blog I wrote this week for my church’s blog.  It is a very real struggle I face (we all face) as a parent of faith.  I hope it helps you.  Mostly, I hope it helps you see that you are not alone.

It’s a very fine line we must walk as parents between showing our kids our faith values and forcing our faith on them.  As a pastoral staff member, the fear of my kids rejecting the Christian faith is very real.  The stereotypical PK (pastors kid) is rebellious and questions their faith early and often.  Why?  Because the faith of their parent has loomed over them their whole lives.  They are expected to be a certain way, expected to know the word, expected to have the faith of their parents.   And often, they don’t.  And it’s not just older church members that expect this, my daughter’s school friends have an expectation of who she should be, and I can see her kicking back against it.

So, how do we walk this tightrope and keep from falling over the edge?

  1. I am going to go ahead and rebel against ideas presented in Sticky Faith.  I do NOT believe we should allow our kids to stay home from church on Sunday’s, youth group, etc as we try and keep from pushing our own faith and let them make faith their own.  If we believe that by the age of 13 kids have decided what they value and believe (and I do), then why would we not require the young members of our family to take part in the events we value as a family?  Don’t we require our kids to take part in holiday celebrations and traditions?  We force our kids to eat Great Aunt Betsie’s secret family meat loaf recipe or attend those awkward family reunions. Surely our faith values are more important than those?
  2. Church and church events are not enough.  Scriptural obedience tells us that as believers it is our job to teach the scriptures to our children and talk about our faith as we do day to day life.  Our faith, our worship, has to naturally flow out of our lives. So, how do we allow our kids to make their own faith decisions?
  3. We let them wrestle.  They will wrestle with our faith, they will likely even rebel.  They will want to know how and why we believe what we believe.  They will want to explore and we CANNOT stifle this curiosity out of fear, doing so will only drive our children to doubt and push away farther from our faith.
  4. We have to be honest with our kids as the wrestle.  We have to be honest about our own doubts and fears (be they past or present).  We have to be willing to show our shortcomings and our own failures as we struggle to live out our faith.  I say all the time, parenting is so much less about our mistakes and failures, and more about how we respond to those mistakes and failures.
  5. We must pray.  As parents we must spend serious and sincere time at the throne of God in prayer over the spiritual warfare being waged over our children.

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