Do Kids Need Religion?

How do you introduce religion to your kids without forcing it upon them? How do you raise them with the values you wish them to possess without pushing?

How do parents talk to their children about religion? What is the first step in the introduction process?

It is best to go about this process when your child begins to show interest or curiosity. Attempting any sooner may reflect as a negative action or as pushing. You never want to push a child toward something they are not ready for. You will know of your child's interest growing as their questions become more numerous. This usually takes place around age five, but remember every child develops at different rates. Do not make your discussions too vague; this will disappoint your child. Do not make them too deep or you will bore them or may cause them to lose interest in future religious explorations.

How do parents find the balance when their children begin to ask questions?

Focusing on the fact that God is with your child everyday will open a whole new level of understanding for them. You will know what direction to go based on the questions your child asks. If they are asking pointed questions, this generally means they have basically grasped everything so far and it is appropriate to proceed. If they become distressed with a look of "what?" on their face, then take a step back. Ask them what they are confused about or what they need more explanation about. Let your child lead you.

Should parents teach their children their own beliefs or wait until their children are old enough to decide?

Begin with your own beliefs. It is your right and obligation to express your beliefs to your children. Your conversations will be more meaningful and beneficial if your child has a firm grasp on how you view religion. Every family is different when it comes to their beliefs, so how you choose to proceed with this is up to you. Setting up the foundation is an important step in this process of introducing religion.

How do parents draw the line between encouragement and pushing?

Remember that you never want to push a child toward something they are not ready for. However, a child is lead by example. Encouragement can come from within the positive example you set for them as their parent. If they see you practicing your religion on a daily basis (or during the specific times you set aside), they will feel encouraged to participate. Some children need more direction and encouragement to open up and share, but this is common for new learning experiences. Asking them what they are curious about and how they feel will help open them up little by little.

Answering your child's questions:

Your child will come to you with question upon question about your beliefs, the beliefs of others and so on. If you do not know the answers to their questions, find them. If you are unsure about how to explain something, find someone who is able. If you only have part or the answer to a question, learn the rest. It is never a good idea or practice to sketch over details, this will only cause your child to feel frustrated and discouraged (as mentioned earlier in this article). As will the words, "I don't know," without following up with, "I will find out for you."

© High Speed Ventures 2010