Introducing "Mom Says/Dad Says," an exclusive Christian parental advice column by Gregory Slayton, former U.S. Ambassador to Bermuda and author of the best-selling book Be a Better Dad Today: Ten Tools Every Father Needs, and his wife, Marina Slayton, author of the new book Be The Best Mom You Can Be. The Slaytons have been featured on Fox and Friends, Focus on the Family Radio and numerous other media outlets. They donate 100% of their royalties from parenting books to fatherhood and family non-profits.
Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman, Governors Jeb Bush and Sam Brownback and Pastors Tim Keller and Luis Palau, among others, have endorsed the Slaytons. In their exclusive series for The Christian Post, both Marina and Gregory will answer thoughtful Christian parents seeking to raise their children up in the goodness of the Gospel and the Glory of God. If you would like to have Marina and Gregory answer your questions, please contact them via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parent's Question: My wife and I are concerned that our children are finding the life of faith not particularly relevant. They are in their teen years. What steps can we take to show them the importance of faith in their lives?
Mom says: As Christian parents, Gregory and I have a keen desire to see our faith become our children's faith. But at its heart, Christianity is not a religion but a relationship. It is about a love relationship between our Heavenly Father and His child. As John 16 so powerfully says, "The Father Himself loves you."
But while each relationship is unique, I have come to believe that there are several principles at work in developing our children's faith. The first key may seem simple and obvious, but in this day of running around and frantically trying to maintain our lifestyles, we overlook that an earthly parent's love is the clearest expression of our Heavenly Father's love. So if you and your spouse are too busy to spend time with your kids, your kids may find the idea of a Heavenly Father's love too abstract to be real. So love on your children during the finite time you have with them.
Secondly, it is no longer cool to be a Christian; this is a reality that all parents must face in contemporary culture. So imbue your kids with a sense of pride in our Christian history, no matter if the world may currently disdain Christianity. For example, the greatest explosion of literacy in the history of the world came because evangelical Christians wanted everyone, regardless of gender, socio economic status or race, to be able to read God's word. This is just one of many powerful examples of the greater good that Jesus and His people have wrought on this earth. Make a study of Christian history with your children. You will find many, many amazing examples of Christians making a huge positive difference in our world.
Do not disregard your kids' need to belong to a peer group of like-minded kids. So find a church and youth group that they actually like, rather than tolerate for your sake. This may mean uprooting your family from a church that you and spouse may love, but doesn't offer much or anything for your kids. If we don't help provide for our children positive groups they can belong to, they may look elsewhere for a sense of belonging.
To know God is to know His Word. Regular family devotions are a must. And lastly, prayer is the greatest spiritual weapon we have been given. Don't give up praying, even when discouraged. God answers those prayers because as much as we love our kids, He loves them even more.
Dad Says: The Bible gives us a very interesting promise on this subject in Proverbs 22:6: "Raise up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." (KJB). Note that the Bible doesn't promise anything about when he is a teenager or in his twenties. It's not surprising in our aggressively secular culture that some of our kids will struggle to make the faith their own. That's where we must show patience, hope and lots of love. We can be patient because we know that we serve a great God who loves our kids even more than we do (hard to believe – but true).
We can have hope because we know His promised for our family – which are throughout the Bible (like Proverbs 22:6 above). And we can be loving, because we ourselves have gone astray and have been saved and loved into His family by Jesus Himself.
It's a very powerful testimony to our kids for us to be patient, hopeful and loving to our kids through the years no matter where they are in the faith. And as Marina talks about above: prayer is a key weapon. Let's pray for our children every single day. To paraphrase James 5:16: the prayer of the righteous mom or dad is very powerful!!
It might take years – it might even take decades – but in the end "love never fails" (I Cor 13:8). So let's keep loving, hoping, and praying for our children every single day. And let's watch for God's power and redemption in their lives!!