As a practicing Christian, you try your best to embody your faith in your own everyday life. But what about your kids? At an early age, they naturally do not have the same understanding of what it means to know God and be a good Christian. How do you parent your young ones so that they personally discover -- and practice -- their faith?
Here are some doable parenting tips to help you raise godly children. Note that these aren't rigid rules to impose on your kids, but forms of guidance to point them to the faithful path.
1. Use everyday experiences to spark conversation.
Everyday communication is essential in good parenting. When you converse with your child about how their day went, try to talk about Christian values in common situations. These could be something they saw, heard, or experienced firsthand. Pastor Jack Wellman calls these "teachable moments". For example, would you tease your classmate about their old shoes? Is it okay to cut in line at the store? This way, your little one would be able to translate the concept of goodness into concrete actions in daily life.
2. Provide assurance with God.
Whether they're toddlers or teenagers, our children often need some form of assurance. Maybe they're scared of monsters under their beds, or perhaps they're anxious about their looks and abilities.
Provide age-appropriate confidence-boosters with God as the source. With smaller children, you can introduce God as a powerful protector who watches over them. With older ones, you can emphasize that everything will pan out beautifully because God has great plans for them.
3. Share your personal stories.
We love this parenting advice from writer Becky Sweat. You surely have had remarkable experiences that made you feel the power and love of God. Did your faith pull you through some tough times in school? Did you pray to God for the kind of partner that is your husband? Did you find strength in God as you endured a difficult childbirth? Share these stories with your kids! Try to make your storytelling fun and colorful so your kids get invested in the message.
4. Read the Bible with them.
The Scripture is your fuel, and it can be your kid's, too. Allocate some minutes every day for storytime featuring some wisely selected Bible stories. With little children, it also helps to have an illustrated version to capture their interest.
Author Natasha Crain also emphasizes that more than reading, we must study the Bible with our kids, too. This is to help them realize the great importance of the Word, and to guide them through the skepticism surrounding it.
5. Pray with them.
When you consistently pray with your child, it gets them into the habit of communicating with God, too. Incorporate your kid's own blessings and concerns -- as well as their youthful language -- into your prayers. And don't forget to pray for others as well. Example: "Thank you, God, for the fun playtime with Zoey and Dylan today. Please help Miss Carter get well soon."
6. Incorporate faith in common spaces and items.
Add some little tangible reminders for your child to remember that God is always with them. Perhaps it's a piece of inspirational wall art above their study desk. Or it could be a wearable item with a meaningful message that they can carry with them every day.
7. Remind them of Christian imperfections.
Kids make mistakes all the time. Berating them for their innocent mishaps may end up discouraging them from Christian ways, thinking they would have to be perfect 24/7. Instead, in addition to wise disciplining, teach your child to learn from their mistakes. Ask: "What should you have done (or not done)?" "What will you do next time?" And always, remind them that God loves those who always try to be good despite their natural imperfections.
8. Encourage them to ask.
Surely, your child will have questions about God, Jesus, and Christian faith. Let them ask you. Whenever you can, try to respond with age-appropriate explanations and examples. But when you're stumped, you can engage your child to learn or discover the answers together with you.
9. Be a good role model.
This is a crucial item on this list. It has been shown over and over again that children learn more from adults' actions than from what they preach. So in your daily life, act with kindness, patience, humility, and generosity. Try to hold your anger around your little one. Know how to apologize, even to kids. Respect rules, whether they're law or signage at the supermarket. Give to others when you can. And always worship God every opportunity you get. Your child will likely emulate the same behavior that they constantly observe at home -- from you.
What do you think of these tips? Do you have anything to add for Christian parents like you? Do leave a comment -- we'll be grateful for it!