Friday, November 18, 2011

Who You Are Shapes Your Kid

Excerpts from Amy Julia Becker post:  Why Teens Drift Away from Faith

Every week after Sunday School, I try to figure out if our kids have learned anything. Do they understand the stories they heard? Do they know the characters? Do they know God’s love for them? Do they understand anything about sin or forgiveness or praise? Usually, I get reports about coloring and friends and blank stares when it comes to the Bible. My ears perked up last week when Penny, who is almost 6, mentioned Jacob. I was all set to get the picture Bible and review the story from Genesis when it came out that Jacob was a kid in her class.

There’s a part of me that wants to outsource our children’s spiritual education to our church. My once-daily habit of “quiet time” has mostly fallen by the wayside due to the incessant demands of getting our whole family ready to walk out the door at 8. I stumble when I try to explain forgiveness or sin in terms our children might understand. We do pray before meals and before bed. We do talk about God and Jesus. We don’t do “family devotions,” though we do sing “church songs” in the car. But I worry that as my kids grow up and become more independent, they will fall away from the tenuous connections I’ve offered to God.

And so when I saw the book Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids (Zondervan), by Kara E. Powell and Chap Clark (both at Fuller Youth Institute), I immediately wanted to read it. It is less directly applicable to parents of young children than I had hoped, yet it still offers both a big picture foundation for passing along faith that will “stick” with our children and many practical suggestions for how to do so. Powell and Clark combine their personal experience as parents, anecdotal evidence from conversations with college students from Christian homes, and analytical research about what makes faith last to offer a comprehensive and very readable book that both encourages and challenges parents as we attempt to pass along our faith to our children.


But at the end of the day, one of the biggest measures of whether our children will know Jesus is whether they have watched us know Jesus. That doesn’t mean we need to be perfect Christians who never lose our tempers and always demonstrate patience and love. It means we need to be transparent about our humanity and our salvation in our habits, our attitudes, our actions towards our kids, and our actions towards others. Their findings reminded me of a study conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts about reading habits in America in 2007. The study showed that the highest predictor of reading habits came not from whether or not parents read to their children (though that was a key factor), but whether or not parents themselves read in the presence of their children. In Powell and Clark’s words, “It’s who you are that shapes your kid.” When it comes to faith, our kids need to see us doing it—reading the Bible, praying, going to church, forgiving other people, and living lives of love and service to God.


No comments: