A Travel Guide for Life, Faith, and Relationships! [A guest post.]
Zaccai was only out of my sight for a minute. I was busy watching Lainey, the other one-year-old, and the older two kids.
Where had Cai scampered off to?
I found him in the bathroom, sitting on a stepstool in front of the toilet, a soaked wad of toilet paper in his happy little hands.
Two days of Nana duty last week gave me a fresh appreciation for what parents face every day. It’s tough keeping a crew of little people safe, healthy, and clean!
Speaking of safety, one thing that intimidates me about caring for young children is the whole car seat thing.
I’m pretty sure today’s car seats are safe enough to send a small child to the moon and back without any worries. I’m also pretty sure you should have a Master’s degree in Car Seat Usage before you touch one.
Safety for our children is a valid concern – but their spiritual safety is what matters most.
Know anyone whose child grew up going to church, then went off to college and turned away from God?
Know any kids who never embraced their parents’ faith at all?
Regarding a child’s coming to faith in Christ, there’s God’s part, the child’s part, and the parents’ part of the process. Parents aren’t responsible for God’s part or for the child’s part.
On the other hand, parents can powerfully influence their children to embrace a robust faith which will not be shaken by the worldly philosophies they encounter.
Developing a deeply-rooted faith in your kids will require more than Bible stories, bedtime prayers, and church on Sunday (though these are all good things).
By following two powerful principles, you can college-proof your children’s faith and cause them to flourish spiritually.
1. Model genuine faith to them.
By which I mean, your faith in Christ is what you center your life around.
You spend time in the word of God daily. You pray often. You listen for the Holy Spirit’s voice. You develop deep friendships with other believers through church life together.
You explain to your children what you are doing, and why. You help them develop the same habits.
“ Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” –Deut. 6:4-7
You ask for your children’s forgiveness when you wrong them. They see the gospel in action. You’re not a tyrant who demands respect, yet doesn’t offer it.
You live out your faith, not perfectly, but authentically.
2. Teach your children to know why they believe what they believe.
Regardless of where your son or daughter is educated, he or she will encounter plenty of ungodly ideas long before college.
Therefore, have lots of family conversations about worldview, apologetics, and critical thinking.
Your children need to know that the Christian faith is intellectually sturdy.
Train them to give an answer to everyone who asks them to give the reason for the hope that they have, with gentleness and respect. (I Peter 3:15)
This means if you’re not sure why it’s reasonable to believe in the resurrection of Jesus, you look for resources on the topic.
If you’re unsure whether there’s conflict between science and the Bible, you dig for answers.
And so on.
You don’t have to have all the answers up front.
Simply model genuine faith to your children, and train them to know why they believe what they believe, as you learn to do the same.
In following these two principles, you’ll provide the most important kind of safety for your children.
Susanne Maynes is a Board Certified Biblical Counselor, speaker, and the author of Unleashing Your Courageous Compassion: 40 Reflections on Rescuing the Unborn. She blogs about church and culture, spiritual growth, and Christian parenting at SusanneMaynes.com and teaches a weekend workshop, “Passionate Parenting: How to Raise Wholehearted Followers of Jesus,” available online soon.