Here are ways to practice talking with your kids about matters of faith.
By Kara Powell and Steven Argue
In Growing With, the authors discuss the concept of “faithing”—the connection of young people’s ongoing journeys to follow Jesus into their growing and increasingly complex worlds.
As we interact with parents nationwide, they confess that when it comes to discussing spirituality, they’re worried about saying the wrong thing and either messing up or revealing their ignorance. Let’s acknowledge right now that we all will say the wrong things sometimes! The good news is that faithing needs fluency, not correctness.
Faith in families has become a lost language, a segmented category, the fancy room in the house that we visit but don’t live in. Parents can bring faithing language back into everyday life by finding small ways to “speak” it again. Like any language, it will seem awkward at first, but consistency will bring fluency.
Before my (Steve’s) kids could drive, I would take them to school in the morning. I realized that this “task” was also a ritual when I had my kids all to myself at the beginning of the day. So somewhere along the way, I made it a point to turn down the music and pray a simple prayer over them. I would typically end by praying, “May we follow you to live in ways that make the world a better place today.”
One morning on our drive, I was moody and quiet, making our typical fun morning drive not very fun. My daughter sensed it. She grabbed my hand, started to pray for me, and ended the prayer, “And may we follow you to live in ways that make the world a better place today.” I squeezed her hand. Wiped my tears. And said, “Amen.”
If car-time prayer doesn’t work or is too awkward, pray for them as you occasionally make their lunch or dinner. Tell them you’re praying for them. Ask them what you can pray for.
When my kids have been at college or lived on their own, I have tried to text them regularly. I try not to be overbearing. In fact, we have an agreement that if I text, they don’t need to text back! These texts aren’t “Don’t forget to turn in that paper” texts or “We miss you—please come home this weekend!” texts. Instead, I tell them what I love about them, that I’m praying for them or I send them a quote that resonates with their interests.
My family has tried regularly to take time over dinner (usually on Sunday before the week begins) for each one of us share what we’re anticipating for the week. Usually we ask two questions: 1) What are you excited about?, and 2) What would you like us to pray about? Then we each pick someone to pray for. This small ritual seems to keep us connected with each other throughout the week. For those who have kids away from home, you can still find ways to connect and ask these very same questions by text, email or video.
Having said all that, I can also list the numerous times that I forgot to ask the questions over Sunday dinners, failed to pray for my daughters or just plain blew it. So we know that even our best intentions will at times fall flat, or simply lose steam. Our goal is not to be perfect but rather to ask ourselves, what are the simple ways we’re making our faithing conversations fluid and natural? Like any language, the more we practice, the easier it comes.
Excerpted from Growing With by Kara Powell and Steven Argue. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Copyright 2019. Used by permission. BakerPublishingGroup.com