As a parent the biggest concern I deal with (and pray about) on a daily basis is my children’s relationship with God as they grow up. The idea that our kids might doubt, or turn away from God completely, isn’t something that’s easy to think about. But it’s important.
At some point our children are going to have to own their relationship with God. They will need to figure it out for themselves; they won’t be able to rely on our faith as their parents. I have heard it said many times by many pastors and teachers: “God is a father, not a grandfather.”
Our kids will need the help of the Holy Spirit and, just like you and I, at times they are going to struggle. “If our kids never struggle with their faith, they will have borrowed convictions.” –Josh McDowell
I want to share with you with eight thoughts on what to do if you have a child who is struggling with their faith.
- Nurture the kind of relationship where your child feels they can express themselves honestly, without judgment, to you. Encourage critical thinking.
- Pray with and for your children as much as possible. “If you determine to circle your children in prayer, you will shape their destinies … your prayers will live on in their lives long after you die.” –Mark Batterson
- Don’t panic. At least they’re thinking about important issues. It’s a start.
- Help your teen sort out their emotions from their intellectual concerns. Emotions aren’t always correct, and it’s important not to confuse the two.
- Offer unconditional love. Let them know that your love for them has nothing to do with their faith.
- Watch yourself for hypocrisy and legalism. This causes many teens to question the faith of their parents.
- Be authentic. It’s ok for your kids to see you fail, to see you struggle. Invite them to pray with and for you. That way, when they grow up and have similar issues, they won’t feel weak or insufficient.
- Be passionate about your own relationship with God (and don’t hide it). Be the same person Monday thru Saturday that you are on Sunday morning. “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:7
In summary, be there for your kids. Even if they don’t want to talk or listen to what you have to say, be there for them by praying. Even if your child is three months old, start now to pray for their walk with God, for their relationships with people, and for their future.