Authenticity: The Key to Passing on Your Faith to Your Kids

family praying togetherIf you are a parent and your faith is important to you, then passing along your faith to your children is one of your highest priorities, perhaps THE highest priority. If that’s the case, then you’re probably familiar with the crazy-high percentage of teens who abandon their faith after high school, some research say more than 90%.

I recently read Brandon O’Brien’s review of the book Sticky Faith by Dr Kara Powell and Dr. Chap Clark. As the subtitle states, the book is about “Everyday ideas to build lasting faith in your kids.” I haven’t read the book yet, but in his review, Brandon writes his own observations as an Intro to World Religions instructor:

The students whose parents prioritized religious services but didn’t practice religion at home were likely to consider themselves “unreligious” today. Students whose parents emphasized both religious services and devotion at home–even if those practices became less important as the kids got older and schedules busier–were more likely to identify as not practicing but hoping to be more devoted in the future. Students seemed very turned off to religion if their parents are defensive or intimidated about their spiritual questions.

Looking at the students who turn away from their parents faith, I see 3 groups:

  1. Students whose parents prioritized religious services but didn’t live out their faith
  2. Students whose parents were defensive or intimidated by spiritual questions
  3. And my own observation, students whose parents were so adamant about following their religious beliefs perfectly that they seemed to never fail or struggle with anything. (Often when these students get out on their own and are ill-equipped to deal with temptation, struggles and failure)

All 3 of these groups of students have one thing in common: parents that lack an authentic faith. Their parents may have acted religious once a week or perhaps even to near perfection in front of their children, but they were not genuine with their kids about what they really believed, what they really thought, or how they really lived.

On the other hand, those students whose parents lived an authentic faith tend to adopt their parents faith, or at least view it positively enough to want to return to it. Personally, I was blessed to have 2 parents who lived their faith, were open to discussing spiritual questions, and did not put on a false front of perfection. And after putting it to the test each in our own ways, I and my two brothers all followed after my parents faith in Christ.

How about you? What was your spiritual upbringing? Can you identify with any of the groups of students above? How did that affect your faith?

Tomorrow, I’m going to follow this post with 5 Keys to Living an Authentic Faith with Your Children

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