18 Feb 2019 Faith matters: Teaching moments, consistency important
by Kellie Bishop
Faith is an essential component to a fulfilled life and is a crucial concept to instill in children. The concept of faith involves having complete trust in someone or something. In regard to religion, faith is a strong belief in the doctrines of a particular religion based on the spiritual aspects of it rather than physical proof.
As adults, we are more concrete thinkers and often have difficulty maintaining faith during times of hardship. We like to have control over situations and at times we feel uncomfortable believing in things that do not have physical appearance. However, children have the ability to think more abstractly. Children are eager to learn and they rely on the adults in their lives to teach them the fundamental concepts to live a happy and fulfilled life.
One of the most overwhelming fears that many parents have is that their child will not align with their family’s spiritual beliefs or that they, as parents, are not doing a good job instilling faith in their children. While everyone must develop their own faith and spiritual relationships, there are a few things we can do to promote a strong faith in our children.
We often focus on memorizing scripture when teaching children about our family’s spiritual beliefs. This is important and has its purpose, but if the end goal is to teach a deeper understanding of the concepts and instilling a strong faith, it is essential to use teachable moments and experiences to teach children the doctrine.
If your weekly studies discuss loving others and helping those in need, you could take your child to volunteer at a soup kitchen or donate toys and clothes they no longer use to those in need. There may be a child in his or her class who does not have as much as your child so encouraging sharing and befriending those who are not as fortunate will allow for teaching doctrine and the concepts of faith. Through these experiences, children learn to give to others without expecting anything in return. This invaluable lesson can be connected to scripture which will allow them to learn the concepts instead of simply memorizing the words on a page.
No matter what religion your family’s faith is focused on, maintaining a strong relationship with that being is critical. It is difficult to teach this strong relationship to children if they do not have other stable relationships to observe around them. As parents, we must embody the faith and love that our doctrine teaches through our relationships with our spouses, children, family members and friends. We must teach our children to give grace to others and to love others, even when they disappoint us, because we all have flaws. As children observe this in the relationships around them, they will be able to connect the concept to faith and will learn that just as our religious being loves us despite our flaws, we must love and forgive those in our lives.
Consistency is perhaps the most important concept to instilling any important lesson in children. Without consistency, children would never learn to read or write. They would not develop healthy eating habits, sleep routines or potty-training habits. Similarly, we cannot expect children to develop and maintain a strong faith without consistency. Wherever your religious home is, make sure your child consistently attends with you and is engaged. If your child learns that they only go worship on major holidays or when the family is experiencing difficult times, they will likely develop a faith that is not consistent and only present in those times. However, if they attend services and teachings weekly at the same location, they learn that it is important and will sustain them on both good and bad days. They are also less likely to have spiritual confusion and more likely to develop their own consistent and healthy spiritual practices as they grow older if they grow up in a home that consistently instills faith.
Faith is more than just believing in a specific religion. No matter what your family’s religious beliefs are, using these tips to help instill faith in your child will help them grow to be a more complete and fulfilled adult. It is important for all of us to give thanks for our blessings, pay it forward to others and have strong relationships with the physical and spiritual beings in our lives to help sustain us in both happy and difficult times. The foundation to these fundamental concepts is a strong faith in something or someone bigger than us, and through teachable moments, fostering relationships and consistency we can help to instill that faith in our children.