As Christian parents, we are called to raise our children in a way that helps them grow closer to God. This of course does not mean strictly imposing our beliefs on them without room for their own questions and choices. What we can do is to gently guide them in faith through patient teaching, being constant role models, and providing inspiration.
Here are some doable tips on nurturing the Christian faith in our kids, as suited for their age.
Toddler Years (Ages 1 to 4)
Tell Bible stories.
Lively and colorful stories are really the best way to communicate moral lessons to small children. Instead of telling fairy-tales every single night, snuggle in with your child with stories from the Bible. Thankfully, there are many toddler-friendly Bible stories available, whether as illustrated books or as online resources. We even found this helpful website with free interactive kiddie pages!
Say affirmations together every day.
Affirmations are like prayers: they are short, easy-to-memorize sentences that you and your child can say out loud for a few minutes every day, especially upon waking up. The goal in repeating these sentences is to prime the mind, body, and soul towards positivity. Even something as simple as "I will be nice to my friends today" can wonderfully set the stage for a day that's in line with our faith.
For some inspiration, Christian educator Alisha Gratehouse offers a list of Scripture-based kiddie affirmations. You can probably think of a few more that would suit your child best.
Songs are a fantastic way for kids to remember something. Plus, they'll enjoy learning through the fun actions or dance moves that usually come with kiddie songs. Loosen up and be silly with your child as you teach them actions songs like "Jesus Loves Me", "Every Single Cell", and "The B-I-B-L-E".
School-age Years (Ages 4 to 12)
Spell it out in colors.
As your child learns to read, you can fill their surroundings with attractive Christian signs in colorful text and kid-friendly language. The Ten Commandments wall sign above is a perfect example!
Recite poems and prayers together.
Now that your child is starting to appreciate basic literature, they can transition from single-sentence affirmations to multiple verses of prayers. Teach them a few pieces and say these pieces together regularly. Bedtime prayers, like the one above, is a great place to start. You can then add other literature like Christian poems and Bible verses.
The school-age years are filled with busy little hands creating imaginative things with paper, scissors, glue, and crayons. Join in on the fun -- or initiate it! Introduce kid-friendly Christian crafts that they will surely love to display in their bedrooms or in class. Don't know what crafts to make? This blog page we found has tons of ideas.
Teenage Years (Ages 13 to 19)
Gift them with Christian items they'll like.
Once you have a teenager under your roof, you must be prepared meet strong resistance to your parenting. You may try to assert your authority over angsty teens, and you may also provide guidance and reminders in subtle ways -- such as through teen-approved accessories and clothing. Thank God for tastefully designed Christian wearables! (The jacket above is available here.)
Help decorate their room.
A teenager's bedroom is their sacred space, and redecorating this room together is a lovely bonding idea. Just remember: it's their room, so their own preferences are priority. Encourage your child's personal interior style, but also suggest some faith-inspired additions. For example, a cute canvas wall piece, like the one above, can catch your teen's eye while reminding them of their relationship with God.
Encourage them to join Christian groups and events.
The teenage years are a time when social interactions are of high importance. It is healthy to allow our kids to socialize on their own, but of course, our guidance as parents is also crucial. To help guide them to good company, introduce your teens to Christian fellowships, Bible groups, worship concerts, and church volunteer activities, particularly those of their age group.
Young Adulthood (Ages 20 upwards)
Sprinkle reminders in daily life.
The job of a parent never ends, does it? Even when our children fly the coop or become working professionals, they could still use our wisdom from time to time. Sometimes, they might come to us for advice; other times, we simply find small opportunities to share our faith. It can be as simple as a coffee mug gift with a Bible verse print that they can use every day.
Choose beautiful Christian art as gifts.
As our children move to their own homes and start families of their own, our role as providers significantly fade. But that doesn't mean we can't give our kids presents anymore. Come birthdays or Christmas, we have the opportunity to share artistic Christian gifts with our grown children -- such as the beautiful Serenity Prayer wall piece above.
With physical distance, many family members unfortunately grow apart and lose sight of their shared faith. One concrete way to prevent this from happening is by communicating constantly with each other. This should be easy with the boons of technology, such as texting, social media, and video calls. Use these modern tools to maintain familial relationships and faith.
Which of these Christian upbringing ideas are you trying out? Do you have any tip to add? We at Christian Style are eager to hear yours, so leave us a comment!