In a previous blog post, I wrote about passing along a faith that lasts to your children. That post focused on the most important thing parents can do: live out a vibrant faith themselves.
Today I want to share with you additional research that suggests another helpful dimension to helping your kids inherit your faith.
As it turns out, that element has a lot to do with Dad.
The power of love and affection
In a New York Times article that ran earlier this year, Prof. Vern L. Bengston shared the results of original research that shows how important family bonds are to passing on the faith.
In other words, without emotional bonding, doing all the “right things” may be for naught.
As the professor put it,
Fervent faith cannot compensate for a distant dad. A father who is an exemplar, a pillar of the church, but doesn’t provide warmth and affirmation to his kid does not have kids who follow him in his faith.
It’s amazing how central love is to the “formula” of raising kids.
I came to the same conclusion as I thought through the themes in my most recent book, “The Good Dad.” In it, I wrote,
I’ve come to picture parents’ relationship with their children as something like a playground tetherball. You, as the parent, are the pole. You’re not going anywhere. Your child is the ball. And the rope connecting you – the tether – is the love you share for each other. Your mutual affection is what connects you.
The Bible sums it up best. “God is love,” it says in 1 John 4:8. So how can we expect to transfer a knowledge and thirst for God the Father if we’re not living out one of His most defining characteristics?