Like all Moms I have tried to do the best for my kids. Giving them the tools they need to be successful in life- values, a can-do spirit, work ethic, kindness and so on. But as hard as I’ve tried, there is one area where I feel that I have failed them. I know, it’s so easy to play Monday morning quarterback as they grow older and time seems to speed up. You realize you have so much to teach them before they leave for college or move out. Looking back, I wish I had done a better job in those precious early years teaching my boys about faith.
Honestly, I steered clear from it. I was basing that now regretful decision on my own experience with religion growing up. My introduction to church and faith was very abrupt, very sudden. We were suddenly going to church on Sunday’s and Wednesday’s, my parents were attending bible study, and my Dad became a deacon in the church. At the time, I was a teen, and I didn’t understand this new ‘interest’ of my parents. But I certainly do now – as we’ve all learned as adults, looking back at your childhood, things become clearer and make a lot more sense. I suspect my parents were feeling the same way that I feel now. The realization that you are getting closer and closer to sending your child out into this big, wide world without knowing the power of prayer, walking in faith during hard times, or good times for that matter, and knowing that you have someone to turn to in times of crisis, something, or rather someone bigger than yourself.
My boys are so much like their Mom, me – the good and the bad that comes with that. They are strong willed, smart, clever and stubborn – a dangerous combination! So, in an effort to introduce them to faith, I have gone about it in a very different way than my parents did. I want them to embrace religion and not resent it. Rather than throw them into church and risk them feeling the resentment that I felt as a teen, I have integrated faith and God into our lives using a slower, more strategic process.
10 ways to teach and connect your kids to faith and God:
1. Use Christmas and Easter as conversation starters. Even though Christmas and Easter have been hijacked by good old American commercialism, there is meaning behind these special holidays. Talk about it.
2. Add symbolism to your home. Put up a cross. Wear a cross necklace or bracelet. Show your kids that it is a symbol that is special and has meaning to you.
3. Watch faith-based movies together. Here is a short list of some of my favorite religious and spiritual movies:
- Heaven is for Real
- Miracles from Heaven
- Little Boy
- I Can Only Imagine
- War Room
4. Books. Buy books that have an overarching message of faith. Buy books about Jesus. One excellent choice for younger kids is a book called, “Jesus Calling”.
5. Start praying, openly. Say grace before meals. Add bedtime prayers to your nightly ritual.
6. Be an example. In times of struggle, share with your kids, and pray about it. In times of joy, share with your kids, and thank God for your blessings.
7. Let a celebrity do the ‘marketing’ for you! It warms my heart when a celebrity wears their faith on their sleeve. Whether we like it or not, celebrities are admired – so use it to your advantage. Tim Tebow for example is very open about his faith, remember “Tebowing”? Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Chris Pratt are very vocal about their love of God. Use those celebrity videos as tools and opportunities to talk to your kids.
8. History. Our country was founded by men who were God fearing and founded America on Christian principles. Share these quotes and stories with your kids. Find examples of historical figures that had a strong faith. Use these examples as teaching moments.
9. Talk. Talk to your kids about faith, use examples that interest them. Perhaps you have a personal story, kids love to learn about their parents’ history and experiences. Humanize faith, illustrate how it has been an anchor and shelter in your own life.
10. Church. Slowly integrate church into your lives. Visit a church on special holidays, attend events like an Easter egg hunt, participate in church fundraisers – contribute to food drives or the giving tree. Church is a fun, social and feel good experience – show them that.