It’s that time of year again. Schools are open again, and kids stream through the hallways on their way to learn. We send our kids out to learn about many of the important subjects. They learn math, science, reading, history, and all the rest. Christians have always been an educated people, leading the world in studying all subjects including theology.
Unless you send your child to a Christian school, however, it can be difficult to make sure that their influences always point them toward Christ and a faithful Christian life. Friends, classmates, and teachers are all influences. We always pray that the people around our children will support them in their faith.
What can you do to encourage your children in the faith while they’re off at school or with their friends? What can you do to help them stay true to their beliefs?
It’s important to understand what a parent can and can’t do. No one can fully control what their kids do when they’re out of our sight. All we can do is make the most of the time we have with them and trust them to live the way they were raised. We do our best, and we trust that God will be faithful. So, the tips below will focus on what you can do with the time you are together.
One of the most important things Christians confess is that we are limited and God is unlimited. There is so little that we can control, but God controls everything. That is, of course, why Christians pray. We bring our prayers and concerns to God, asking him to give us what we need.The most powerful thing we can do for anyone is to pray for them, because we are asking the creator of the universe to guide, protect, and bless them.
So, the most powerful thing you can do for your children is to pray for them. Ask God to guide them wherever they go, to help them make faithful decisions, and to be a holy influence on the people around them. Jesus tells us, in Matthew 7, that our heavenly Father gives us good things when we ask for them. “Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
But don’t just pray for them, pray with them. Make it a daily habit to pray as a family about their struggles. This will do a couple things. First, your kids will get into a good habit of calling on God for help. Faithful habits help to make faithful Christians.
Second, when you pray with your children, especially if you ask them to pray for you, they will see how you trust God. Kids can tell what things are important to the family by what their parents do. If you show that you trust God for help, your kids will see that and be more inclined to do the same.
Sunday worship is the center of the Christian life. That’s where we gather with the people of God to receive his grace. We hear his word, and we respond with praise. We receive forgiveness, and we give things through prayer. We encourage each other to live faithfully.
When you make Sunday worship a central part of your life, it is more likely that your kids will, too. Perhaps the best way to do that is to make Sunday worship a part of your daily home life. Consider making a daily devotional ritual that follows the same patterns as Sunday worship and includes the songs you sing. We have an article about the topic, which you can find here.
Why? Christianity is more than a set of teachings. It is also a culture. When you take time to teach that culture, your kids will be able to participate more fully. They’ll be able to sing the songs with the adults, making them full participants. Not only will they receive God’s grace, but it is more likely that they will become more dedicated. More dedicated Christians are more likely to remain faithful during the week and for the rest of their lives.
There is a little church up in northern Wisconsin that gives its middle school students a gift for their confirmation, a cross medallion on a steel necklace. It’s not anything expensive, just a little piece of jewelry. They gave it to the students to help remind them of the confession of Christ that they made. The students each had a physical piece that they could wear around their necks to remind them that they belong to Christ.
Consider getting your kids something some Christian jewelry. People used to say that you should tie a piece of string around your finger to help remind you of something you need to do. Why would that work? Physical symbols have a way to bring up mental concepts. Jewelry can help remind someone to be a good disciple of Christ.
Families run into ethical dilemmas all the time. You have to make decisions about the shows you watch or what your family does. You run into people who are kind or mean. Your children will do the same. These moments can be great times to talk about how to make good decisions in the faith.
Here’s an example. Not so long ago, there was an American television show called, The Secret Life of the American Teenager. The show had lots of difficult situations with which the teens struggled. They made a lot of bad decisions. Each of these moments can be the start of a conversation about how to make good decisions.
The show also had several strong, adult men who took responsibility for their families, something rare on TV. You can talk about their example, and how they show strong leadership for their families.
Sending your children into the world can be scary. Many parents wish they could control every aspect of their children’s lives so they have only the best influences. That’s not possible, of course. Parents can only do their best with the time they have with their children. Each of the ways above can help you focus your own family time to point the whole family to a faithful Christian life.
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