Dad: Your Faith Matters to Your Kids

Holy Week is a great time to remind and challenge you about one of the most profound ways you can influence your children—in faith and spiritual matters.

There’s a wide range of approaches to faith, just like there are many different traditions for the Easter holiday. Maybe you’ll celebrate on Sunday by attending services with your family, maybe with a special brunch or dinner together. Maybe you’ve been observing lent during the weeks leading up to Sunday. Maybe for your family it’s all about egg hunts, bunnies and candy, or maybe Easter has no significance for you and you pretty much skip the holiday.

You may have good reasons for what you believe. The bigger question is:

Do your kids know what you believe, and why?

During day-to-day life, they might not seem to care about those matters. So maybe it’s good to think of this as one of those things where you’re speaking a “slow” message—you’re saying things now that your child might not really “hear” for another ten or twenty years. You’re investing in the older versions of the children in front of you. And it’s vital that you do, because at some point in their lives they will have questions and they’ll probably use you as a major reference point.

You’re a key spiritual mentor for them, they need to hear from you about questions like,

  • How did we get here?
  • Do our lives have a purpose?
  • Who decided that some things are good and right, and some things aren’t?
  • Is there a God, and if so, what is he like?
  • What happens to people when they die?
  • How can we find peace in life with all the pain and discord in the world?
  • … and so on.

Sure, all children need to figure out what beliefs they want to embrace and live by, and sometimes they will choose a different path from yours just because it’s different. Teens and young adults often do that.

So this might not be easy and you might feel inadequate. (Most of us do.) But these matters are important to your kids—or they will be in the future. They’re listening to what you say about faith issues, and they want to see how you live it out. So keep talking with them about your beliefs and values even if they don’t seem interested right now. Keep having those conversations and making those regular investments. And here’s one more important tip:

Relationship is a big factor in leading your kids spiritually.

You’ve heard the saying: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It’s especially true among the little ones in your home. To pass on a legacy of genuine faith, you have to focus on building solid relationships with your kids. They need much more than a list of rules and principles; they need love to hold it all together. And especially if your kids are too young to comprehend the deeper mysteries of life, your efforts here can help set the tone for future discussions. What does this look like? Here are two examples:

One father takes one of his children out to breakfast every Saturday. The kids look forward to their turn to have pancakes or bagels, but they also enjoy the one-on-one time with Dad. For an hour of time and less than ten bucks, he gets one of his children all to himself. And usually he doesn’t preach at them or try to impart some spiritual lesson; it’s more about just hanging out together and building trust.

Another dad uses this motto: “Always take a kid along.” When he heads to the hardware store, the auto mechanic, the grocery store, he always takes one of his kids. Away from the rest of the family, they have a little more of each other’s attention. He’s using everyday errands wisely, knowing that the soil of quantity time is where quality time is most likely to spring up. Again, the focus is on the relationship. If something happens where he gets to model honesty, service to someone else, or some other virtue, that’s a bonus.

Family devotions, worship times and prayers are important. But don’t forget, dad, to also build strong relationships so your children will want to follow in your footsteps.

What are your top tips for investing spiritually in your kids? Please leave a comment to help other dads on our Facebook page.

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There may be no more important work than turning the hearts of fathers to their children, and that’s what this is all about. We’re seeking to repair, rebuild and restore effective fathering for the benefit of children and families everywhere.

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