Teaching Your Children Well
A question in my Bible study this week asks, “How did your parents prepare you to for Christianity?” (This is my paraphrase.)
I like this question because it made me remember the ways my parents helped develop and nurture my faith. They modeled Christianity, urged me to pray, had breakfast Bible studies, took me to church, Sunday School, summer Bible school, and youth group–even when I grew tired of it and stubbornly wanted to stay home.
My mother’s reply to my flair of independence was firm and constant, “You’re going.”
I think of that parenting skill now when I hear a friend say things like, “Saturday and Sunday are the only days he gets to sleep in,” when I invite her son to join mine in Sunday School. Or another friend who says, “My husband doesn’t want to go, and I don’t want to go without him.” I think of her three children steadily moving toward high school and the questions and choices that await them there. They’ll have to navigate the scary halls of peer pressure without a solid foundation of truth to use as a plumb line.
The best (or worst) cop out is this line: “I don’t want to force my religion on her. I want her to find her own.” When I hear that excuse, I want to knock the speaker over the head. (Not exactly a Christian response. I know.)
Here’s what I think. It’s my job to introduce my children to a good idea. That’s why I fed them nutritional meals. Healthy eating is a necessary thing.
That’s why I, in their words, forced them to take piano lessons and join the marching band. That’s why I introduced them to James Taylor’s music and Nanci Griffith and Van Morrison and the Zac Brown Band. Music is a good thing.
That’s why I read to them every day, carted them to the library, made them read classic novels. Maybe one day they’ll appreciate Jane Eyre as much as I do. For now, though, they’ll know the reference if a professor mentions Mr. Rochester.
And that’s why my husband practiced sports with them. Physical exercise is important.
I did my job as a parent to introduce my children to necessary, good, right things. Now, as young adults, they can choose French fries over fruit if they want to. My oldest tolerates country and blue grass music, but the other three always want to hear more. They ask me for suggestions on book ideas, but they choose their own also. They run several times a week because they feel better if they do, not because they’re on a team. The point is my husband and I laid the foundation, and now they choose.
Just like salvation. We can’t give our children salvation or make them choose it. We can model our faith. We can surround them with it. We can pray over them, but in the end, the choice is theirs.
I wanted my children to be their best in mind, body, and spirit, and so I chose a path that would lead them there. Whether they continue walking on it is up to them.