Parents, Major on the Majors

Parents have a lot on their plates these days. There is so much to be anxious about, concerned over, and invested in trying to protect. A recent survey by Pew Research Center was able to detail what concerns parents the most. Topping the list? Mental health concerns. Forty percent of parents are saying they are extremely/very worried about their child struggling with anxiety or depression. Another 36% are somewhat concerned. That’s three out of every four parents with mental health on their parenting radar in relation to their child.

Rounding out the top five of “extremely/very” concerned about were bullying (35%), being kidnapped or abducted (28%), getting beaten up or attacked (25%), and having problems with drugs or alcohol (23%).

I get it. These are serious issues and would have any parent concerned.

And what do these parents want most for their children when they reach adulthood? Overwhelmingly, it was to be financially independent and to have jobs or careers they enjoy—88% of all parents had both of these hopes tied at the top of their list. Getting married (21%) or having children (20%) didn’t even come close.

But there was something buried deep in the study that was alarming, and it was the number of parents who place importance on their children sharing their religious beliefs.  Of those surveyed, 66% believe it is extremely important that they be honest and ethical.  Forty percent would say the same of being someone who helps others in need. But only 17% said it mattered to them if their child shared similar religious beliefs to their own.

Let’s play this out for those who would consider themselves Christ followers. This would be saying that you desperately want your child to be a Boy Scout during this nanosecond of life on Earth, but you don’t care if he spends his eternity in hell.

I understand parents being concerned over mental health, and wanting their child to experience financial security, and hoping they will be honest in their dealings with others.

But if you are a Christian and you truly believe Jesus was who He said He was, and that heaven and hell are real and real people go there, then nothing, nothing, nothing matters more than passing on your faith to your child. 

And rumor has it that it might just help out with your other concerns,

… like mental health and honesty.

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This article originally appeared on and is reposted here by permission.

James Emery White
James Emery White

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a former professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, ‘Hybrid Church:Rethinking the Church for a Post-Christian Digital Age,’ is now