Helping your children develop a relationship with God is a delicate balance of guidance and exploration. You want to show your kids the values you hold sacred while allowing them to feel free to discover God on their own. When their relationship with their higher power develops organically, through understanding and positive, engaging experiences, their faith grows and strengthens from the inside.
To foster your child’s relationship with God:
Use children’s books
There are a host of children’s books geared toward teaching, strengthening and incorporating faith into the lives of your kids, every day. These fun and fundamental stories introduce and deepen the spiritual concepts you want to expose your children to without them feeling like they’re being instructed.
Provide formal and informal education
Send your children to a school of faith. Encourage them to study the texts of your religion or faith on their own, or set aside time to study with them. Get your kids involved with community faith-based activities, like weekly services, special events, charitable causes, and community outreach programs.
Make it fun
Make faith rich, enjoyable and entertaining for your kids. Incorporate the teachings of your higher power into playtime activities, games and family time.
Encourage two-way communication
A relationship with God is not just about asking and receiving. Naturally, you want to teach your kids to pray and ask for assistance. But also teach them to listen. Through meditation, mantras and prayer, they can channel the word or visions of the messages of God. And make sure to teach them to give thanks to their higher power, and ask what they can do to show their appreciation.
Teach your children that it is okay to ask questions. Allow them to go on their own journey and have their own experiences on the path to God’s love. Let them explore different systems of belief, values and customs. Exposing them to faiths beyond those you and your spouse follow will provide them with a more well-rounded understanding and experience of God. Insulating them from this knowledge will make them more likely to follow the specific path you set for them, but eventually they will come across this information on their own. And keeping them from it won’t quell their curiosity. Make whatever avenue they wish to explore a viable option, while continuing on the path you’ve set for yourself.
Recognize whatever beliefs and values your children adopt as they come and go. As your kids learn and grow, so too will their relationship with God and understanding of God’s teachings evolve. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging their faith in the interim, before they’ve settled on or refined something. And acknowledge the presence of God in your everyday life. If they see you making your relationship with God consistent and paramount, they will be compelled to emulate this approach.
Go to God first
If your kids are dealing with any kind of adversity, challenge or question, let them know God is always there to listen, guide and assist. When in need, going to their higher power first will help make that their most important and reliable relationship.
Employ gentle guidance
Show them the path without control or force. Influence them without steering. And don’t micromanage their journey. Sometimes it’s best to observe from the sidelines instead of leading the pack. Don’t push an agenda, be manipulative or use bribery or negotiation to direct your child’s faith. Tread lightly with positive or negative reinforcement. You don’t want your child to take on the values you hold high because they covet the rewards or fear the punishments you dole out. The real reward of their relationship with God is the relationship itself, and the fulfilling and joyful life that comes with it. And it’s nothing compared to anything material you could entice them with to lead them down the path you prefer.
Practice what you preach. Namely, if you are teaching your children about the infinite power of your source, do so with the power of your source. If you want to teach your children to be wise, speak with wisdom. Not pretense, arrogance or ignorance. If you want to teach your children to love, do so with love. Not shame, guilt, judgment or obligation.
I was lucky enough to be raised in a household that allowed me to find and follow the spiritual path that was best for me. Although no particular faith or education was fostered, they were all accepted. And now my family and I can share in the insights and knowledge we’ve acquired over the years with openness and understanding. We respect each other and our own individual relationships with God. We all have our own personal faith, but connect in our foundations of love, acceptance and respect.