Sharing Religious Values With Kids

Ways to teach your children about faith everyday, including examples.

Sharing religious values with kids is very important to many families. However, some are not sure how to go about it. How do you teach your kids what you believe without forcing them into something they may not want or accept? How do you teach without preaching?

First, remember that you are the parents. It is your job to pass your religious values on to your children, and to expect them to accept and embody them, at least until they are teens. Young children need their parents' guidance in knowing what is true, good, and right. Teens may need space to figure out what they really believe, but only after they've had several years of being steeped in their family's beliefs. Share your beliefs with your children often and strongly.

Then, remember that every moment is a learning opportunity. For example, say your child tells you about how someone they know said they hate someone else for ethnic reasons. Ask your child how you think the ethnic person would have felt, and explain that all people are equal in God's eyes (or in whoever your leader is), and that racism is wrong. Remember to make this a dialogue; not a monologue. Ask your child for his or her opinions, and how he would handle meeting an ethnic person. Suggest he try to make friends.

There are moments like this in everyday life. There may even be times that are more blatant - say, if your child asks a direct question about God or a Bible story, or if he wants to tell you a Bible story he's heard lately. Answers his questions and encourage him to talk about the stories he's heard, and ask him how he feels about it. Fill in any details he doesn't know. Again, make sure it is a dialogue; if your child feels he is an active participant, he will pay attention, and the faith will be his.

Situations can make good learning opportunities, too. For example, if you have an elderly neighbor, make a point of going over to visit her (with your kids) and doing favors for her. Explain to your kids that God loves everyone, and that we need to love everyone, too, and we can do so by helping them out when they can't do things for themselves. Encourage your kids to talk to her and to do small chores for her, too.

If you notice some negative examples happening around you, point these out to your children, and ask them what you think Jesus/God is thinking about what has happened (He is sad if people are hurting each other) and what you think the people should do instead. Maybe, in the grocery store, instead of yelling at the cashier, the man should have politely requested to speak to a manager or accepted that mistakes happen.

Kids of all ages can learn from these types of situations. It also helps to take them to church weekly, play Christian music throughout the day, and take them to youth groups where they are surrounded by families of the same faith. Children who are constantly absorbed in faith are more likely to make it their own. Sunday school of some type, when they're old enough, is also a very good idea.

The best thing you can do, though, is be a good example. Help others, admit your mistakes (and ask for forgiveness), and embody all the other values you are trying to teach your children. They will absolutely do what you do, so be that example and your children will easily follow in your footsteps.

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