As a parent with a deep faith herself it is really important to me that my children grow up with the same. Not because I want to control them or dictate how they should live their lives but because I want them to know the freedom and contentment that comes from being a Christian and following Jesus.
I was really shocked to read in the Guardian that a quarter of parents (23 per cent) are choosing not to pass on their faith to their children for fear of them being alienated at school. I have to wonder though, who are these parents and surely their faith is a central part of who they are and how they live? For me, as a Christian I can’t see how I wouldn’t demonstrate or pass on my faith, it is just part of ‘doing’ life.
My 13 year old son comes to the Food Bank warehouse with me each week to volunteer, my 9 year old daughters make shoe box gifts for children locally and internationally and we all attend church together each week. People coming to our house to share a meal or us giving a lift to those in need are just part and parcel of reaching out and being hospitable.
The research by the religious and social affairs think tank Theos also found that more than a third of parents (34 per cent) believe that social media will “have more of an impact on my children’s beliefs than my input”. Of course, to some extent they are right as we live in a changing world where children are impressionable and open to what they learn from social media and their friends in the playground. But nothing will shake my belief that some parents nowadays are too ready to shirk their responsibility to have the tough conversations, or even just too busy to chat at all.
Have my children been alienated at school? No never. Do they all go and announce that they come from a Christian family, probably not, but not for fear of being ostracised, it just isn’t a necessary conversation. My son at 13 goes to church, volunteers and learns about the bible but he also plays Minecraft (endlessly), listens to Electro music and fights with his sisters. Kids with faith are normal too, there is nothing for them to fear.
As parents we have to be confident to equip all our children to be resilient, to stand up for what they believe and to be bold enough to be different at times. The issues tend to arise when children are not being shown a way to live but being dictated to and having their free choice removed. That isn’t part of Christianity, so if any of my children chose to walk away and not be a Christian then so be it. I’ll keep on praying for them, I’ll keep on loving them and I hope that after exploring for themselves they’ll come back to the faith that they grew up amongst.
Whatever religion you follow you must have faith and when you do there is no need to fear anything. So for those one in four parents who are scared to pass their faith on to their children I advise them to laugh in the face of fear and just immerse themselves in their beliefs and to live generously.
Michelle blogs at Mummy from the Heart and Progress Not Perfection.