It’s tempting to assign our responsibility as parents to others, especially when it comes to issues that require some expertise we don’t already possess. When my daughter was struggling with geometry, my first inclination was to hire a tutor, even though my architecture degree forced me through several layers of calculus and I was proficient at geometry at one time myself. Instead of hiring someone, my son and I worked through each question with my daughter. I took the time to relearn the material so I could teach it to her. It was a pain, but it was worth it. I love my daughter and I know my daughter’s learning style, her concerns and her personality. I can tell when she’s “getting it” and when she’s just pretending to get it. For this reason, I knew I was the best person to help her, and although it required some work on my part, it was the right decision.
Spiritual instruction is really no different. It’s tempting to assign this form of instruction to a youth pastor or ministry. Spiritual questions are often difficult to answer and questions related to secular philosophy, historical veracity and arguments for the existence of God can seem insurmountable. When the challenges arise, it’s easy to look to someone else for an answer. At times like these, most of us find ourselves saying, “Let me get you a book,” or “I’ll try to find someone you can talk to.” But, that’s not what our kids need from us when they first begin questioning. They came to us with their questions and they need us to provide them with the answers. We’re the ones who love our kids enough to understand their shape and the nature of their personalities. We ought to know how best to respond to their questions as well. When your son or daughter begins questioning his or her faith, you’re the person who needs to become the best Christian Case Maker they know. This is especially true if your kids have questions when they are very young.
I’ve noticed some parents at my church who seem to focus the bulk of their efforts in this life on their own enterprises. They aren’t quite sure what to do with their own children. They don’t know why they had them, except in order to be made happy by them. If they are concerned with religion at all, they depend on other people to teach their children about it. If parents can’t explain things to their children, then children will come to believe that Christianity is something that people affirm without reasons and evidence. In addition, parents who know why they believe what they believe will find it much easier to live out authentic Christian lives. And that has a huge impact on a child.
UPDATE: I was dressing for work this morning and checking for new podcasts and found that there is a podcast for this blog post. It’s really good, I listened to the whole thing while in the gym, and I highly recommend it, even if you don’t have children yourself.