Some of you had trouble getting to sleep last night, and I think I know the reason why. You just couldn’t get your kids off of your mind.
Maybe you have a daughter who is questioning her Christian faith. Or you have a son who has turned his back on the Lord and walked away. Or maybe you have younger kids, and you’re disheartened by the world you’re having to raise them in.
There are plenty of justifiable reasons to be concerned about your children and their future and, specifically, their spiritual well-being.
According to the Fuller Youth Institute, research shows that somewhere between 40 and 50 percent of kids from faithful Christian families drift from God and the church after they graduate from high school.
That’s almost one out of two.
That’s the kind of statistic that will make almost any Christian parent lose sleep.
But what’s behind those numbers? And more importantly, what can moms and dads do to reverse that trend?
Those are critical questions for all of us as parents.
In many ways, the answers are simple, but not necessarily easy.
For example, despite the influence of the outside world, it’s hard to point to a factor more important in a young person’s spiritual development than how parents practice their faith. As one researcher put it, “When it comes to a child’s faith, parents get what they are.” In other words, kids learn, not just by what parents say, but by what they do.
But here’s where it gets a little tricky. A parent’s influence is only part of the equation. Sometimes we forget that as parents. We can be quite hard on ourselves when we have a prodigal son or daughter. We wonder, “Where did we blow it? Where did I fail as a father? Where did I fail as a mother? What role did we play in this child going the wrong way?”
The truth is our kids’ choices often have more to do with their personality and temperament than we think. No matter how strong our parenting skills, our kids will still choose their own path through life.
But even if your teenager is drifting from the Lord, or your adult child has walked away from the faith entirely, you still have an important role to play as a parent. As long as you have a relationship with your child, you have influence.
There are a lot of angles to consider here, and we’ll be talking about all of them in detail over the next couple of programs we’ve titled, “Building a Foundation for Your Faith and Family.” Our guest for this two-part program is Dr. Kara Powell. She’s the executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute, which exists to equip kids, especially teens, with a lifelong faith. Dr. Powell is also a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary.
We’ll explore the factors that cause young adults to leave behind their Christian upbringing, and we’ll discuss practical ways to increase the likelihood that our children will stay connected to their faith.
So join us on your local radio station or online via our free, downloadable mobile phone app. I hope you’ll be encouraged about what you can do and about what God may be doing behind the scenes. Who knows? Maybe it’ll set your mind at ease, so you can get a little sleep tonight.