I don’t have much time today, so this will be short and sweet.
Here’s a question for Christian parents: Do you read the Bible with your children? Which version? Do you read selected stories, or just read through?
The question of how we talk about faith and Scriptures with our kids has been going around for a while. On one end, there’s a whole movement to declare “indoctrination” with religious instruction as “spiritual abuse” of children. (For the record, I don’t agree. I think that there can be abuse within the context of religious instruction, but in and of itself it’s not abusive.) On the other end, there’s discussion about how we can more effectively make disciples of all ages.
These are valid discussions, ones we need. If Christians are to be able to come to the table together, despite our doctrinal differences, we need to be able to talk about how we handle Christian education. Unfortunately, I think that a whole group of people have been left out of the conversation—the parents.
Everywhere a parent looks, even within the church, there is advice on how to handle just about every facet of child-rearing. It seems as though everyone has an opinion. Similarly, there is a wealth of information available for Christian education, including online lesson plans, teaching philosophies, and printable materials. But there are very few resources for parents on just how we, as the most influential adults in our kids’ lives, can help them grow in their faith.
Sure, we hear about how important it is to read the Bible and pray with our kids, how we should make sure they are attending church with us. There are curricula available for homeschooling families which include religious instruction. There are even kids’ devotionals. None of that is what I’m talking about. What I think we need is to help parents communicate their beliefs effectively, while simultaneously encouraging children to go deeper, to check things out for themselves.
This is more than just effective parenting techniques. In our family, we want to make our beliefs clear to our kids, but we don’t want them to think that our love for them is contingent on their acceptance of those beliefs. They already know that not all people are Christians and not all people believe in God. Through homeschooling, we’ve had the chance to learn about other religions and read some of the stories from other traditions. Now we want them to have a deeper understanding of our faith, beyond what they learn at church.
So my question for you, dear readers, is what steps have you taken to bring faith into your home? Even though we are Christians, I still want to hear from some of my friends who are not. How do you provide in-home spiritual care and instruction for your family? If you read the Bible together, how do you handle the tough passages of your religious texts?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, but I would also open this up to anyone who is interested in writing about this topic as a place for a guest post. If you’re interested, contact me via this blog. I also want to open this up to people who are not parents, and those who have grown children. Just because you don’t have kids living in your home doesn’t mean you don’t have thoughts on this subject. What do you all think?