Do you want to know what used to keep me up at night? The one thing that would consume me with its gravity? Its a little thing that I like to call ~ Faith. How do I teach my children about it? We are commissioned by God to teach our children about faith and eternity. But how? Quite simply, we have to model it. Most every parent struggles with teaching their children about behaviors; right from wrong, good from bad. These life lessons are tangible, teachable and rooted in your family’s value system. Faith has tangible parts to it as well and is the anchor of your value system. Focusing your child on the how to’s of things is the beginning of these steps.
The impact of teaching your child by example is critical because they listen to and watch everything you do. Think about how you interact with your children everyday. It is in these moments the application of faith applies. When you teach your child about sharing, do you simply tell them they should share or do you model for them how to share. It is more powerful for a mommy to say, “I will share with you” and give them half of your cookie than to say to a child they have to share a very coveted truck with little Johnny. So, why don’t we as parents embrace the idea of modeling our faith in everything we do? What are we afraid of? Ask yourself, are you more concerned about what a stranger may see than your own child?
Do your children see you have quiet time with the Lord? Do they see you reading your bible? Or are you keeping your relationship with God a secret? How can they have a relationship with God if they can’t see you in relationship with God? Prayer doesn’t always have to be private. How will a child know how to speak to God if you don’t show them. Teach your child that God is with them everywhere, that He is in their hearts. God is not elusive or distant. He is like our own personal Jiminy Cricket, sitting on our shoulder ready to listen. He guides us, created us for relationship, wants us with Him in heaven, and craves our love. So why not teach our young children in ways that they can understand?
This idea is overwhelming to many parents, but there are some very practical things that you can do every single day to share your faith with your children. Here are some wonderful ways to model your faith:
- Pray aloud before each meal.
- Pray aloud with your children when a conflict arises.
- When your child wakes up with a nightmare, explain they don’t have to be afraid because God is listening. Pray that their fear be taken away.
- When your child hurts themselves, don’t tell them they are OK but pray aloud and ask God to bring healing.
- When you go to a restaurant, pray aloud together before you eat. (Strangers have thanked us for providing a public example of faith.)
- When you are struggling with something large in your life, don’t hide it from your children. Instead, share in age appropriate ways what is going on and include them in prayer.
- Help those in need. For example, when someone is on the side of the road asking for help, take action and talk to your children about what you are doing and why.
- Let your children see you share your faith with other people and watch amazing things happen. My nine-year-old has shared his faith with other kids on the playground. My seven-year-old prays for his sister when she is hurt. My five-year-old prays for her friends on a regular basis. My children speak about her sister in heaven every day because they know she is there waiting for us. Talking to God is part of our daily life.
The reality is this world is full of people searching for answers to questions that only God can provide. Don’t let someone else teach your children about faith. Church, school, and family should all be supplemental to what your children learn from you everyday. Think long-term. What is the one gift that you want your children to walk away with when they head out on their own? Will it be their education? Will it be their independence? Being a good citizen? Or, will it be their ability to turn to God in every situation and find their answers in Him? I choose the latter because life has taught me that degrees, independence and doing good don’t give me stability in the currents of chaos that life tends to throw my way. I want my children equipped with faith because God is the anchor in any storm.