Am I alone or has the parent anxiety around our kids’ faith walk ramped up to high alert unlike any generation before?
I so very much want to run my parenting race in a way that keeps my kids turning to God now and forevermore. But sometimes fear gets the best of me, and at the worst times.
Many of us can relate to the stress and disappointment we feel over the statistics that say people are leaving the church these days en masse. The fear of those numbers seizes us right between the shoulder blades for the world, but, most tangibly, for our kids.
Faith like a child
Leading up to motherhood, I vowed to be ready to coach my kids through any tough faith question they posed. I had hit my own faith forks in the road in college, and when I leaned on my faith, the underpinning was wobblier than I expected after all those years in church. I committed then and there that that would not be the case for my future kids.
What I did not expect was my gaping, open mommy-mouth that had no response to the really easy questions my kids started to ask. Rather basic observations my kids would make, like, “Wait, I thought it was two by two?” when we hit the line in the Noah story that he was to take “seven pairs” rather than the “two of every kind” we had read just one chapter before.
It’s no wonder that Jesus said we should all accept the kingdom of God like a child. Little kids happily embrace the core tenets of our beliefs with such abandon. It’s that very sweet, simple acceptance that our kids bring to bear when they then try their faith on for size.
It’s like my son who had just started reading the Bible for himself. Over breakfast the next day he said, “That book is not like the pages we’ve been coloring at VBS.” Don’t we know it?
Let God be God
The Scriptures are an incalculable gift from God. But as any one of us would admit, they sometimes can be a complicated read. And this is coming from us, the parents, who’ve been at this already for decades. Who will grease the skids for our kids at their young age to gather and glean from the wisdom that only Scripture can offer?
Well, of course, God.
Here’s the real sticking point about parenting this generation, and this will come out wrong no matter how I try to phrase it, so I’ll just blurt it out loud.
Will God really show himself to my kids? Through his Word? Through prayer? In ways that are personal and palpable?
I’m nutso for my kids and evidently, that makes it difficult for me to resist taking on the role of God in their lives.
Maybe we moms can help each other by reminding each other how bad we are at playing the role of God in any circumstance, much less our kids’ lives. Maybe we can remind each other that we have a rather full plate playing the role of the parent in our kids’ lives.
So instead we maybe set up micro habits where we get our kids to read God’s Word, think about it, then pray it back to God.
Then, we see if we might get them to do that again. And, again. And, at least a few more times before they graduate high school.
Maybe we parents can remember how good God is at being God in our kids’ lives. He’s more than able to meet them at their place of need, without resorting to clichés, so our kids’ childlike faith will not stagnate into childish faith.
Together, we can take God at his word; that he will pursue our kids in ways we do not even know.
In fact, we can pray together even now:
“Dear heavenly Father, these are your children, whom I love to my very core. Help me be a good helper to them getting to know you. Help me believe that you pursue them personally, in ways I may not see, but I will believe. Help me give them simple information that bends their hearts toward you, rather than any other authority. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Janelle Alberts spent her early career in PR departments for Microsoft and UPS, boiling down logical, clear corporate messaging. She now attempts the same for parents who love Scripture, often featuring bits we’ve never heard but wish we had. Alberts wrote her first faith column for the Akron Beacon Journal in 2010 and has since been a regular contributor to various online sites including Christianity Today’s Gifted for Leadership, RELEVANT magazine, and others. Alberts and her family make their home in Ohio. Honest Answers is her first book.