Teaching Kids About God, Authority, and Values
- Thursday, July 23, 2009
This is consistent with the postmodern view that holds “truths” are simply the means to control or oppress others. According to this view, whether the “truths” come from the Bible or a history textbook, they are to be treated with suspicion and questioned. It’s okay for something to be true for you, but this doesn’t mean that it also has to be true for me. Any attempt to impose “truths” upon others is viewed as one of the highest forms of intolerance.
Consequently, today’s parents who desire to raise their kids against the grain of the culture face what amounts to a new challenge. Previous generations of American parents did not have to face this challenge when the culture largely embraced historic Judeo-Christian values.
Complicating matters today is the role, or lack thereof, that parents are playing when it comes to being proactive in teaching their kids values.
A study from LifeWay Research found that:
• While nine of 10 parents say they need encouragement in their parenting roles, 61% said that they completely ignore parenting seminars, and 53% “have no use for books by religious parenting experts.”
• Less than a third (31%) of families surveyed have devotions or studies together at least once a month.
• Over 80% of parents say they have an excellent family life, but a third rate their family’s spiritual life as only fair or poor.
• Spiritual growth is often trumped by other priorities when it comes to parenting.
Having been involved in presenting parenting seminars over the years, the research has been borne out by my own experience. Churches have often reported disappointment at the numbers of parents attending parenting seminars. A common reflection from pastors has been that the parents they serve say they want help and are happy that the church is offering seminars, but in the end, many choose not to attend.
It’s also been my experience that when families are well-connected in their local church and when these churches have solid children and youth ministry programs, many parents wrongly believe that the work of building strong, spiritually-minded kids is being handled by the church “professionals.” But, church ministries should never be viewed as the primary means where kids’ spirituality is nurtured and where healthy morals and values are established. Instead, church ministries should be viewed as partners to assist in this process.
It’s not that parents should bear the entire blame for passing the buck to church professionals. Many churches have contributed to the problem by positioning themselves as the primary source of Christian and moral education. Too often, churches have provided little or nothing in the way of equipping parents to become primary spiritual and moral leaders in their homes.
Still there’s good news afoot. A fresh breeze of comprehensive family ministry is blowing through the Christian community today, based upon the concept that churches must make partnering with parents a priority, providing specific and comprehensive skills which encourage, empower and equip parents to fulfill their roles as the spiritual leaders in their homes.
Despite the challenges today of raising kids to embrace a Christian worldview, there are steps that parents can take to instill healthy understandings of God, authority, and values.
Teach kids Biblical truths while they are young. In Deuteronomy 6:4-7 we read, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give to you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you lie down and when you get up.” Further, Proverbs 22:6 tells us to train children in the way they should go, and when they are older, they will not turn from it. Scripture passages such as these provide parents with clear marching orders.
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