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Parents: It’s You

 

Parents:  It’s You

 

David Briggs, writing on the blog site of The Association Of Religious Data Archives (October 29, 2014), says:

 

The holy grail for helping youth remain religiously active as young adults has been at home all along: ParentsMothers and fathers who practice what they preach and preach what they practice are far and away the major influence related to adolescents keeping the faith into their 20s, according to new findings from a landmark study of youth and religion.

Just 1 percent of teens ages 15 to 17 raised by parents who attached little importance to religion were highly religious in their mid- to late 20s.  In contrast, 82 percent of children raised by parents who talked about faith at home, attached great importance to their beliefs and were active in their congregations were themselves religiously active as young adults, according to data from the latest wave of the National Study of Youth and Religion. Teens whose parents attended worship with them were especially likely to be religiously active as young adults.

Other factors such as youth ministry or clergy or service projects or religious schools pale in comparison. ‘No other conceivable causal influence … comes remotely close to matching the influence of parents on the religious faith and practices of youth,’ Smith said in a recent talk sharing the findings at Yale Divinity School.

Yet, he said, there are some powerful “cultural scripts” that discourage parents from taking an active role in the spiritual lives of their teens.  Among those scripts:   After age 12, the role of parents recedes, and the influence of peers, the media, music and social media take over. Cultural messages that encourage parents to turn their children over to “experts.” ‘In the case of faith formation, many parents consider that to be the responsibility of clergy, Sunday schools and youth groups,’ Smith said.

 

Several thoughts came to mind when I read that post.

 

  1. The results of that survey are not surprising. It was 3,500 years ago that the Lord said to parents: “Do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.” (Deuteronomy 4:9,10)

 

  1. We can easily feel we are not up to this important responsibility. But being equipped for this role as the key spiritual influencers of our children is as simple as a) hearing the Word of God regularly, b) participating in a Bible class regularly, and c) daily reading/studying God’s Word. I urge you to make these things a priority.

 

  1. It is important for us to remember that we are simply the tools God uses. The real power for influencing our children is God the Holy Spirit. He gives us the strength to live a life of faith in Christ and be role models of faithfulness for our kids.  He works through the Word of God we use to teach, admonish, correct, encourage, comfort, and guide our kids.  He builds and preserves faith in them and empower them for godly living through the gospel.  We will always be imperfect tools, but the Holy Spirit will bless our efforts nevertheless.

 

  1. Sometimes children raised by godly parents who conscientiously brought them up in the Christian faith do not follow in their parents footsteps when they reach adulthood. If that has been your experience, continue to teach your children by your words and example as you have opportunity. Place them in the care of the God who in their baptism made them his children as you daily pray for them.  Be a Christian parent to the end and never give up hope!