Parenting and Spiritual Transmission

While in some of my blogs I like to celebrate the  accomplishments of our students and staff, I find most of my topics tend to gravitate toward weighty issues related to the challenges with which we are faced as parents and educators.

I was quite struck recently when reading the introduction to the C.S. Lewis Institute’s Aslan Academy Parent’s’ Guidebook designed to help dad and mom disciple their children.  The words are so profound that I want simply to quote portions of the introduction as follows.  These may be deeply challenging words for many of us.  But, please, please, take the time to read this, and let’s all be open to making changes in our busy lifestyles as appropriate.  So much is at stake.

Why do young people walk away from their faith when they leave home?  Key reasons include their lack of strong faith as a child and their parents not having lived a vibrant faith.

Parents tend to focus, almost by default, on raising kids who will exhibit good behavior, succeed in school and eventually, in  employment, and become decent citizens …. While these are important outcomes, they are not the most important.  What do I desire most for my children?  For them to  grow in the knowledge and love of their Savior Jesus Christ and articulate, defend, and joyfully live out their faith in whatever calling God has for them.  Helping disciple our children on this journey should be a parent’s urgent priority. …

Proverbs 22:6 notes that we parents are to train our children in the way they should go, and when they are old they will not turn from it.  The Bible is clear that parents are chiefly responsible for helping their children become effective disciples.  The church can help. Youth groups can help.  Godly friends can  help.  But parents are on the front line, and they need help.

Parents deal with so many seemingly urgent and important things–managing their jobs, helping kids with school, taking them to sports, music, or play practices, church activities, hobbies, vacations … At times,  just surviving the daily grind can seem like an impossible goal.

But if we fail to intentionally prepare the hearts of our children to fall in love with the Creator of the universe and find joy in following Him, our work as parents will fall  dreadfully short of God’s plan for us to lead our children.  Likewise, as a church, if we neglect the work of equipping parents to disciple their children, we have forfeited a foundational responsibility.  

Recent studies from a variety of reputable sources have confirmed that parents, in general,  are not properly preparing  children to have a solid faith … The culture of a typical middle school, high school,  or university seems almost designed to pull children away from their faith.  With the plethora of information on the web and through influential messages on TV,  movies, music, and other entertainment options,  it is more important now than  ever for parents to  help children fully understand and defend their beliefs.  The world is intentional about worldliness.  Parents  need to be intentional about disciplining their children.

The introduction continues … but you get the point: no one,  including the local church or the Christian school, can replace the parents as the primary spiritual and faith mentors of their children.  This is a huge responsibility, and if arrested by the above words (I certainly am!),  the reader may need to seriously consider a reordering of priorities. Again, so much is at stake.

I pray that we here at Oakwood Christian can effectively come alongside Christian parents in supporting what they are doing in the home.  But we can never come close to picking  up the slack if parents themselves are not proactive in this aspect of their children’s spiritual formation.  My next several blogs will touch on this same topic,  with mention of some valuable parenting resources.

In  closing, I can’t overemphasize how impressed I am with this Aslan Academy Parent’s Guidebook from which I have quoted above.  Yes,  their program represents perhaps a radical commitment of time; but I cannot imagine a family who engages in this program ever regretting the time investment and the relationships that flow out of it!  You can find this resource at www.cslewisinstitute.org.