Of all the roles that I have, the one I feel the most pressure for is that of a parent, especially a Christian parent. I want my children to grow up to be good and emotionally healthy adults. But I also want them to become followers of Jesus.
The scary part of being a Christian parent is that there is a real possibility that one of our children will tell us that they no longer believe in God. What do we do then? Here are some thought I have on this subject.
What Not to Do
- Don’t get mad at them for being honest. Better they tell you this than keeping it to themselves.
- Don’t panic. Panicking is not going to help you or them.
- Don’t try to scare them back to faith. Detailed descriptions of hell are not likely to bring them to faith.
- Don’t assume they will be become a Richard Dawkins style atheist. You have no idea what this will look like or how long it will take.
- Don’t lecture them. Sharing accurate information is important but they need more than a theology lecture.
What to Do
- Listen. Don’t be quick to fix the problem. Let them explain what they are going through.
- Seek out the reasons. Is it because of intellectual reasons? Prayers that were not answered? Bad experiences at the church? Peer pressure?
- Be available. Have conversations with them as they are open. Don’t force it. And consider sharing your own faith struggles.
- Pray for them. Never underestimate the power of prayer. Don’t leave it to just prayer but definitely include prayer.
- Take time to learn. They may have questions and you should be prepared to answer. If you don’t know the answers, do the research and find out what you can.
- Love unconditionally. The Bible says that God is love. When we love our children unconditionally, God is present. Their belief or unbelief should not be a factor in how much you love them.
The faith of my children is very important. That is why, among other things, I have written a short booklet called, Letters to My Children on Faith. You may find it helpful with your own conversations.