Parents spend time, money, and effort to make sure that their children are brought up to the best of their abilities, but, as a society, are we lacking the influence of spirituality in their young lives?
Dr. Lisa Miller, a psychologist, argues that the spiritual development of a child means more than anything else when it comes to shaping a child’s development.
“And yet all of those conversations, elaborate schedules of extracurricular activities, and high aspirations often miss the single most crucial ingredient of all, the only thing that science has shown to reliably predict fulfillment, success, and thriving: a child’s spiritual development,” she writes her book The Spiritual Child.
While it is important to also help your child grow academically, socially, athletically, etc. the largest emphasis should be on their spirituality and getting them to a place where they are independent of your faith and wholly dependent on their personal relationship with God.
In his book Sacred Pathways, Dr. Gary Thomas points out that each person has a different spiritual temperament, and learning which one fits your child can be extremely helpful in fostering their spirituality.
“Our temperaments will cause us to be more comfortable in some of these expressions than others — and that is perfectly acceptable to God,” Thomas writes in Sacred Pathways. “In fact, by worshiping God according to the way He made us, we are affirming His work as Creator.”
The following are 7 practical ways that parents can foster a healthy spiritual environment for their children at home.
1. Set a good example
When it comes to being a Chrisitan, it’s important to not only walk the walk for outsiders looking in, but also for your children’s perspective.
If you bring your child to church on Sunday morning, but that’s the only glimpse of God they get for the entire week, then chances are their desire to know Him better will be pretty low.
Parents don’t have to be perfect, but children should see their parent’s spiritual walk on a daily basis. Of course, parents will still slip up, because they are human, but one of the best things you can do for your children shows that while you do make mistakes, Jesus still loves and forgives.
2. Read the Bible together
Have family devotions together, and let your children speak!
Reading the Bible as a family is such a great bonding tool and also a great way for children to talk about their own spirituality. It allows a space for families to talk about things that they are learning in the Bible, and things that God is teaching them in life.
The Bible is the most powerful tool that a family can have, and reading it together makes it all the more powerful.
3. Pray as a family
Prayer is one of the most important tools a Christian can use to get to know God better. If you start your child’s life off by praying as a family together, then this will become a consistent habit in their own lives as they grow and mature as well.
Prayer will bring your children closer to God, help them get through hard circumstances, and challenge them in their walk throughout their life.
An easy way to implement daily prayer is by doing it before meals, before bed, or even in the car before school.
Even as an adult, my dad still prays with me before I go on trips, which has always meant a lot to me!
4. Make church a priority
With around only 20 percent of Americans attending church on the regular, this should be an important priority for every family to do together.
Getting plugged into a church together can be great for your family to do. It creates a sense of community while fostering an environment of belonging and growth.
It allows your children to meet friends who hold the same beliefs, and have the potential to become great sources of accountability and love as they grow up.
Meanwhile, it does the same thing for parents! Churches are a great support system for marriages and give both husband and wife friends to hold on to in good and bad times.
5. Connect your child with a mentor
In addition to the influence of their parents, children tend to look up to the people that are older than them that spend time with them.
If it’s possible, connecting your child or teenager with someone that is older than them to help mentor them, and just be a friend to talk to, can be awesome for their spiritual growth.
It might be their small group leader, Sunday School teacher, or even a young adult in the church, but either way having an extra person in their life that cares for them can make all the difference in their walk with God.
6. Help them create their own personal walk with God
The role of a parent isn’t to push or force their child to believe in God, but more so guide them in the direction of making that decision for themselves.
By bringing your child to church, getting plugged-in, reading the Bible at home, and overall creating a spiritual environment, parents can help show their children what the gospel is really about.
As your child grows the ability for them to grow independently will increase, and hopefully, their walk with Jesus will as well. Keep praying and guiding them, but give them space to grow themselves.
7. Celebrate milestones
Spiritual milestones are not only a great indication of someone’s faith journey, but also a good excuse to celebrate!
Whether it’s a baby dedication, a baptism, or a Sunday school graduation, it’s important to recognize these milestones and celebrate them with your children. Celebrating these milestones also show your child just how important and exciting they are.
When your child makes a decision to be baptized, this is a milestone. They are making a decision to profess their belief in God in front of an audience, and acknowledging this can make a huge impact on your child’s life.
These 7 ways a parent can help foster healthy spirituality with their child are awesome tools, but there are plenty more as well!
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord,” Ephesians 6:4 (ESV).