When our kids are young and rely on us for everything, parenting is easy enough. If you go to church, they go to church. If you want them to attend reading classes, they have no choice but to do it. Such is the joy and importance of the early years.
But, as they get older, kids develop minds of their own. It’s a beautiful process, and a real miracle to behold. But, it can be challenging too. Suddenly, they can say no to the things they don’t want to do. And, they can develop their own thoughts and feelings about issues.
Which can be difficult if your child starts to question the faith you’ve built for them. After all, any parent wants their kids to follow in their footsteps when it comes to belief systems. Hence why many of us ensure our youngsters attend church from a young age.
But, there’s nothing worse you can do in a situation like this than impose your feelings. In truth, it’s essential that your child does reach their own conclusions about what they believe. How else can they build a firm faith? And, it’s down to you to help them on that journey. Here are a few ways how.
Talk them through your experience
The good news is, there’s a real possibility you’ve been at the stage they are now. Even if you’ve come from a Christian background, there was likely a time when you questioned whether the faith was for you. If your family aren’t religious or follow a different religion, then you’re even more qualified to help here.
Bear in mind that you aren’t telling your child your story to pressure them into your way of thinking. Remember, faith is a personal matter. They can’t believe because you want them to. Instead, you’re sharing your experiences to help them make sense of what they’re feeling. It may be worth telling them about bible verses which helped you along the way, or books which you found particularly useful. Explain that what they’re feeling is a necessary and healthy part of growing up. If you can, get them excited about the possibilities open to them. Explain the happiness you felt when you found a religious path which worked for you.
It’s also important to encourage your child to experiment. Otherwise, they may feel their options are limited. In truth, though, the religious world is their oyster. They should feel free to find the ideal religion for them or to mix teachings from a few to develop a belief system. And, as difficult as it may seem to accept if they have different beliefs to yours, it’s crucial you encourage this thinking. As can be seen from sites like parents.com, it’s always important to teach our children to respect other religions. Practice what you preach by keeping an open mind here. Accept the religions they choose to research, and do some studying of your own. That way, you can help them with any questions they have about new faiths. During your studies, you may come to find that the majority of religions have similar teachings, which will also help put your mind at ease about this.
Equally, you should accept it if your child chooses to step away from the spiritual world. In many ways this is the most difficult thing of all. But, if it’s what your child wants, then it’s crucial you let them follow that path.
Help them find courses which suit their needs
If they do choose to stick with religion, it may be worth helping them find courses and classes which can help. After all, you may not be the best teacher for all the religions they’re considering. If they’re interested in sticking with Christianity but want to know more, you could sign them up for the programs offered on sites like cenaclesisters.org. Similar lessons can be found for near enough any belief system out there. All you need to do is find something which would suit your child’s needs. Bear in mind that an intense course in a new religion could be a little overwhelming. Where possible, ease them in gently with small sessions to start. It may even be worth contacting the head of their new church, and finding what’s on offer for youngsters. You might not realize it, but the possibilities vary within each religion. It’ll help if you have a full grasp on the issue. Then, you can sit down with your child and talk about which options they would like to explore further.
Despite your help, there does need to come a time when you sit back and accept that this is their choice. You’ve done what you can, but you can’t decide for them. In fact, failing to step back at the right time could spell problems, not only in your relationship but also to their decision. And, that could have significant ramifications later on. So, while giving them a helping hand is all well and good, step back and provide them with space, too. If you become too involved in the process, they may start making decisions purely to please you. And, if that happens, nothing will change. They won’t feel as free to experiment as they should, and so won’t find their own path. If you’ve done all the above, your child will be aware that they can come to you about this whenever they want to. As such, you won’t need to worry that they’re suffering in silence. You can rest easy that your job is well and truly done.
And, if they do decide to follow a different path from your own, it’s crucial you keep those levels of support high. It may not be what you wanted, but none of us should force our kids towards our own beliefs. Be glad that they’ve developed a thought process of their own, and used it to make such an important decision.