When a child is watching your every move, being a None is no longer a lack of religion but an identity that has consequences for another human being . . . “children [are] as a mirror that reflects back what you actually believe rather than what you think you believe.” (Having Faith, If Only For the Kids’ Sake)
That’s a problem for all parents, regardless of religious affiliation!
Shaping another person’s spiritual life is something we may think we do – but I’ve come to believe that it is God’s job.
If we are willing to come under His care, that is probably the best way we can influence our children — kids are super sensitive to being spun. If the notion of an infinite and personal Being is a can of worms that a parent has yet to figure out, I think it is OK to admit this – the very act of wrestling with understanding what faith in God means is a better lesson, then bloviating.
I believe God’s grace and our prayers shape a child’s spiritual life. Sound teaching and preaching surely influence even small children; fellowship is equally vital – and it is the one avenue of God’s grace parents can neglect when the pressures of life crowd out time together with their children. I can see that more clearly now, then I could before. So many teachable moments I didn’t see until they were in the rear-view mirror!
I was a None back when our son came, and the man who was bidding on renovating our kitchen made a comment about childrearing when I was discussing the prospect of becoming a parent. He said children are on loan from God, and our job is to prepare them for when He calls them. I did not have a clue what he meant, but I knew I did not know how to do that. Like the modern day Nones Ms Graham describes, I was drawn back to the rituals of my childhood.
Those rituals included going to church, and saying nightly prayers. Then our son began asking questions I could not answer; then, I began asking questions – questions that haven’t all been settled. But that is the mystery of faith in a God who asks, “Who do you say I am?”
Christmas is a season that offers talking points about what Christians believe – carols are a repository rich in answers, and yield still more questions: What Child is This?
I’d be interested in your thoughts on Ms Graham’s concerns – especially as increasingly more young people have no religious affiliation, and on sharing your faith with your kids . . .