Influencing your child’s faith…

Sometimes parents will say that they don’t take their children to church because they don’t want to influence their child towards one particular religion. There is one big problem with this kind of thinking. No influence means no choice!

If it is really the parents’ desire to remain neutral, the parent would take the child to a variety of churches or religions so that the child is familiar with the differences. This says to the child that faith is important, and there are a variety of ways to believe as well as act on one’s faith. Adequate information and experience helps one to make an informed choice.

To not teach a child about faith in God, is truly not giving the child a choice. Parents who choose not to influence their children when they are still dependents, have not thought through the results of their rationale.

Most parents, teach their children how to take care of their physical needs: change their clothes, bathe, brush their teeth, comb their hair, eat a balanced meal. Have you ever heard a parent say, “I don’t want to influence my child in his/her grooming habits?”

Most parents encourage their child’s interests, whether it be artistic, music, athletic or scientific activities. Have you ever heard a parent say, “I don’t want to encourage my child in any particular activities, I think he or she should be able to choose music, art or athletics when they are older?”

Most parents encourage their child to do well in school, do their homework, get good grades. Have you ever heard a parent say, “I don’t want to influence my child in their learning ability? I want them to decide how smart they want to be when they grow up?”

When it comes to nurturing faith in God, nurturing moral and ethical decision making, why do so many parents retreat or run to the hills on this issue? Is it a backlash to the rigid fundamentalism we’ve all been exposed to? Is it because parents were not adequately prepared as children and they pass this inadequacy along to the next generation? Are parents simply not convinced that children have spiritual needs too?

If you are a parent or plan to be one soon, listen up! If you don’t influence your child from day one till the time they move out, everyone else will! Their friends, advertising, TV, music, teachers, coaches, did I say friends??? If you don’t nurture their spiritual, physical, intellectual and emotional needs, everyone else will!!

There is no place for being neutral in this day and age! Your son or daughter is being bombarded with the values of others and our culture. You must be focused on nurturing basic life skills so that your child has the tools to make wise decisions and face life on his/her own. If you are going to retreat and leave that job to someone else, rest assured, someone will!!

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2 thoughts on “Influencing your child’s faith…

  1. Brian

    I definitely understand the need for religion in a child’s life, but I feel that my own childhood has led to much confusion about religion.

    I was reared in a strict Pentecostal home, but my parents sent me to a Baptist school. The contradictions between the two were glaring and very confusing to a young child. I grappled with issues like losing salvation and dress codes, while those around me were more concerned with what they saw on television the night before (not an option for me, since we didn’t have television).

    I saw people at my church who believed one way and said it was the right way, while the teachers at school taught another. Seeing that both groups of people were so adamant that they were correct forced me to question both opinions and look for my own.

    Although I am a member of neither of those denominations now, I feel that my experience as a child has made it harder for me to believe. I question everything. While that isn’t necessarily a bad characteristic, it does make believing in something that has no concrete proof a little difficult.

    I’m not sure taking a child around to different churches to become acquainted with them is always the best way to instill religion in a child. If I had a child now, I would take them to my church (UCC), where they would always know that they were accepted and would not have a dogma forced down their throats.

    Even as adults, we still don’t always know exactly what we believe about religion, and I like a church that understands the complexities of faith and encourages us on our journeys without judgment. (I know, I should write commercials for them, eh?)

    Anyway, I do agree that religion is very important in the development of a child and I think the world would be a better place if more parent’s cared enough to take their children to church on Sunday morning.

    Reply
  2. downrightpersonal Post author

    Brian,
    I agree with you. The best way is to show by example and attend church together as a family. My post may be a bit confusing. I wasn’t advocating that variety was the first choice. I was addressing those who don’t take their children ANYWHERE because they don’t want to influence them in one particular faith. In this case, if neutrality is the ideal,
    I am suggesting that taking a child to several
    different faiths is MORE favorable than NOT taking them anywhere.

    First choice is still… one family and one faith.

    I can understand how it would have been confusing for you as a child… it appears that the conflicting faiths caused conflict within you. I am glad that you have found the UCC. They are a wonderful place to call “home.”

    Reply

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