I will be what one Christian author and speaker would call a pioneer parent. Pioneer parents are mothers and fathers who did not have the examples of Christian parents to follow in their own childhood. I, simply put, without the help of the Holy Spirit, have no clue how to raise my future children in the faith. I didn’t grow up going to Sunday School, saying bedtime prayers, or attending church. How will I parent in a way that reflects and teaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ to my children?
This is a common topic of prayer for me. I am sure that all parents, whether or not they were raised with Christian parents, feel anxious at times about raising God-fearing, Jesus-loving children. I am not a parent yet, but my husband and I already discuss what we plan on doing and how we can start to cultivate good practices while we are childless. Here are few of the things we have agreed on.
Find a Parenting Mentor
In our church communities, we’re always looking to build relationships with people who are farther along on their faith journey. We hope to find a couple we can ask questions about how they parent their children and how they incorporate faith-learning into their lives. Our hope is that we can lean on others in our faith community and they can lean on us to help build strong Christian children.
Important Faith Milestones
Some families may have faith artifacts that have been passed down for generations. I know someone with a family Bible that dates back to the Civil War! My friend’s family has a baptism outfit that each member of their family has worn on their baptism day. A small catechism is passed down at confirmation. These days of celebrations are marked with deep history of their family in the Church.
My kids won’t necessarily have that. So we’re starting it. When my husband proposed to me, he did so with a Bible where he had highlighted verses and wrote me notes that went along with each highlighted verse. My small catechism from my confirmation is waiting and ready. When my children reach a new faith milestone, we will write their names alongside ours in these artifacts and we will find more ways to create a history of family faith.
Daily Family Talks
Being open to questions and giving answers is so important for children, so they know that their parents are not upset at their doubts or confusion. By cultivating a place and time for children to ask their BIG questions and get answers, they can learn to trust their parents with their faith. Even if we don’t always know the answers, we can be open to our children asking them. Meal times, bedtime, and any other routine can be a place where you can invite your children to engage in dialogue about faith.
Being a parent is a hard and holy vocation, but we do not go alone. God has given us the Holy Spirit. And He gives us His Word, Holy Baptism, Communion, and Confession to freely receive the forgiveness found in His Son. It is not of our own doing. We do not have to bear the burden of converting our children to the faith. We can look to those gifts when we are worried and know that God works where He says He will. And we can cultivate practices that encourage faith growth.
Download the May 2021 Everyday Faith Calendar and follow it as you create and nurture time in the Word with your children.