In my most recent Dad Matters post, I discussed how one of the primary ways our kids learn many behaviors and attitudes is by watching us – a point brought home powerfully in the “Children See, Children Do” video.
My prior post dealt more with everyday behaviors. Are you modeling positive actions or routinely exhibiting negative ones? Are you a ‘yelling’ house or a calm one?
But what about when it comes to your children truly owning, and living out, their Christian faith? How much does what our kids observe about us matter?
If you’re like me, passing your Christian faith on to your kids – and helping them learn how to know and serve Christ – is among my tip-top priorities. And the idea that they might permanently discard their faith is a scary one – an idea made all the more frightening by some of the dire forecasts bandied about.
You’ve likely seen some of the same predictions I have. The ones that ominously foretell that by the time students leave college or enter adulthood as many as 60% … 75% … 95% of kids will abandon their Christian faith. Besides being just plain alarming and depressing, the most important considerations are: is it true? And can we, as dads, do anything about it?
Focus on the Family recently undertook an extensive analysis of some the best research available on this topic. What was uncovered is that:
Just 11% of those who abandon their childhood Christian faith say they had a very strong faith as a child and came from a home that practiced a vibrant faith.
As Focus on the Family’s Glenn Stanton, Director of Family Formation Studies, puts it: You can’t pass on what you don’t have. This is great news for us dads who are making it a priority to be intentional about sharing our faith. If we are living it out ourselves, there actually is a strong likelihood that faith will stick.
“It’s not about being perfect parents. And it’s not an issue of income, education or having the right geographic location,” says Stanton. “It’s about parents being good parents. Common sense things like letting your faith be real. Living it out, and not confining it to lessons. And then having other, respected adults in their life who demonstrate the same things.”
Of course, there are no guarantees. In the end, your kids will ultimately reach an age where they will have to decide for themselves to either own their faith and live it out … or potentially walk away. And for the kids from Christian homes who do turn from their faith in Christ where it’s uncertain whether they’ll return, it’s very painful to experience as a parent. But the encouraging news is that is the exception, not the norm.
It shouldn’t surprise us that when it comes to passing on a vibrant, active Christian faith, one of the very best indicators that this will occur is whether or not we – as parents — are demonstrating a meaningful Christian faith to our kids.
What do see as some practical ways to do that? Share your thoughts, and I’ll tee up some of my ideas next time.