Saturday, September 17, 2011

Raising Spiritually Healthy Kids

I grew up in a Catholic family. I was baptized in a Catholic church and attended Catholic schools through sixth grade. My husband grew up in a Methodist family. His family is very involved in their church. My husband and I married in a Presbyterian church but found ourselves becoming members of a Methodist church years later. Regardless of your faith or the church you choose to attend, raising your children to become spiritually healthy should be your top priority. Never will you hear me say that I am a perfect parent and that I know everything there is to know about raising kids. If anything, raising seven kids has made me more humble and I have realized that I make mistakes, and that is perfectly okay.
I can remember having faith or an idea of faith for as long as my memory goes back. I have always gone to bed and prayed in the evening. I will never forget singing in the children's choir or taking part in the Christmas Story that our church did every year. I remember my first communion and how nervous I was before making my first confession. Of course I will never forget the seriousness with which I made my wedding vows (even though we were shaking with laughter at the beads of sweat dripping from my soon to be husband's nose). I meant every word.
In all honesty though, it wasn't until a few years ago that I wanted with fierce ferocity to belong to a church as a family and to teach my children what it means to have faith. It wasn't something that we disregarded. We did attend church every now and then and we did pray as a family. On occasion we would read stories from the Bible. But I didn't feel like we were really doing what God has asked us to do as parents.
What does it mean to raise spiritually healthy kids? What does God want us to do? When I began to ask myself these questions, I did some reading. I decided to read the Bible in a year. I read Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren and then my pastor asked me to read The Relationship Principles of Jesus by Tom Holladay and because of my own curiosity, I read The Shack by Wm. Paul Young. It is no joke when I say that these books are life changing books. I began to see that I was making quite a few mistakes as a parent. But I also learned that the purpose of life is not at all what I thought it was. I was seriously missing out.
I believe that people too often make the mistake in thinking that the purpose of life is some mysterious, hidden secret that you have to dig up in ancient Egypt or something. In all actuality, God put us here to develop a relationship with Him. He put us here to be his friend and to live out His commandments. All He wants is for us to trust in Him and to put our faith in Him.
This is what we need to teach our children. They are the greatest gift that God could ever bestow on us. But we have to remember that they are a gift and that we are responsible for showing them the proper way and to guide them through life here on Earth. When we abuse or neglect our children, we are showing major disrespect to our maker. All children are God's children, He just let us borrow them for awhile. That is why we must show them the way to Christ. We must teach them that serving God is so much more than simply attending church or behaving or following the commandments. Serving God is the answer to living a blessed life, to finding happiness, and to (what should be our ultimate goal) Heaven. We have nothing to fear in getting to know Christ and developing a relationship with Him. He is there to listen, to guide us, to heal us, and to be our friend. He will never reject us, turn away from us, or leave us. He is here to protect us.
Why shouldn't we teach our children that God is their best friend? I agree that children should learn to respect their parents and other adults and that they should listen to them and live a disciplined life. That is what God wants us to teach them. He commands it.
It is such a relief to be able to talk to God and to develop a relationship with Him. It is freedom, and the key to living a blessed life. We can always turn to God. It isn't always easy, but it lifts your spirit.
Teach your children to talk to God, to be His friend, and to accept Him. Knowing Christ and having faith is a gift that we should share with them. They should feel at ease talking about God and to Him. One of the best things I have ever done is ask God to be my friend. I am going to do my best to show my kids that they should do the same.

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