Home: the mission field?

Barna, an American Christian research organisation, has released statistics relating to the Christian parenting of Generation Z. Comparing the results to recent studies in the UK gives an interesting map of Christian parenting.

Care for the Family and Hope released a similar UK-based study earlier this year entitled Faith in our Families. In both studies parents were keen for their children to share their faith and recognised their responsibility in doing so. Around 95 per cent in the UK-based research considered raising kids as Christian to be their responsibility, while 82 per cent of American parents considered passing on their faith to be very important.

The studies differ in how confident parents are in doing so. According to Faith in our Families, only 32 per cent felt confident about it and 92 per cent felt they should be doing more. However, only one in five American parents were not confident in talking about the tough topics of faith.

In both studies the number of young people who grow up in Christian homes and keep their faith has declined. The mission field is quickly becoming the family home. So what can we do to change this daunting statistical pattern?

Parenting isn’t just for children

When our children hit ‘teenagehood’ it can unsettle us (as well as them!). Outside influences seem to have more of a draw. They begin to find their own identity and have strong opinions.

Rachel Turner of Parenting for Faith says: “Sometimes parents feel like they lose their influence with their children when they become teens, and what the research again and again proves is that parents are crucial in the spiritual lives of their children through all the ages and stages of their lives!”

As our children grow older we need to let them make more decisions for themselves, but if we are not feeling confident we can leave their faith up to them at this point. But, teenagers still need strong relationships within the home and parents who are not afraid to share their faith.

An essential part of their journey

Whatever age our children are, we are vital to their wellbeing. This includes their spiritual well-being. Whether you feel confident or not right now, just being who you are and living out your faith openly before your children will help them cultivate their own. And being intentional in including faith in your conversations and actions will help it become a natural part of your family’s DNA.

Here are some ideas:

Whatever age children are, these studies provide some great ideas on how parents can engage with them about faith:

  • Pray for your children. And pray with them
  • Recognise God as an important part of your family
  • Involve God in the everyday, and specifically in family decision- making
  • Talk openly about faith, including your doubts
  • Talk to other parents about ways of nurturing your children’s faith
  • Listen to Christian music and worship together
  • Share Bible stories together
  • Celebrate Christian events in your home
  • Read Christians books and stories with them
  • Use Bible-based apps or games
  • Do some sort of good deed or social action together
  • Explore nature together

Claire Musters is a freelance writer, mother of two and author of Taking Off The Mask.

‘Technoference’ affecting parenting

It seems parents are becoming increasingly addicted to their phones and their children are not behaving well because of it. The problem has led to the coining of a new word: “Technoference”. This word describes a pattern of everyday interactions being interrupted by digital or mobile devices.

Illinois State University and the University of Michigan Medical School interviewed 200 parents to find out how their phone usage was affecting their children. The study revealed that those who were addicted to their phones were more likely to see behavioural problems in their children. They believe this is because parents were not fully present with their children.

Katharine Hill from Care for the Family said: “Being in the same room might mean we are physically there, but if we are frequently or constantly texting, emailing or watching videos or games, we are certainly not emotionally engaged.” What impact will that have on our children’s faith development?