Mamas, You Can’t Force Your Faith On Your Kids

In the last year I have transitioned into a new stage – all three of my children are out of the preschool stage.  I can let them out of my sight without wondering if the silence means danger and empty tubs of bottom cream smeared on faces, water outlets being explored, or walls being drawn on with lines and lines of purple circles.  I can set them up with a homeschool activity for 5 minutes and they will probably get on okay with it.  I can sleep through most nights without being woken up by cries or wet beds or a sneaky invader under the covers cuddling close.  My children are physically much less needy, but their emotional needs are more demanding. They need me to be present regularly to process their latest struggle with their brother, a concern or a question.

They are becoming more independent and vocal in their interests (“My sport is running, yours is taekwondo, his is football!”).  They are more able to realize when they need time out and what things help them to relax. In their own ways and with their own personalities they are also engaging more with God and spiritual and faith related things.

I was at a marriage conference last year and one of the participants asked the couple who were speaking what we could do to make sure our children take on our faith.  His response was: ‘don’t be afraid of the prodigal journey as it is the journey that many of us need to take to receive the Father’s love.’

Although it causes us to suffer, we have to let go and recognize that their faith will never be ours. Our children need to have their own journeys and their own relationships with God.  We need not to be afraid and we must hope and plant seeds of faith and relationship into our children’s hearts now, praying relationship with God is something they will want to remain in or return to.

My parents never forced the Christian faith on me.  They presented it as truth, and I was aware that they deeply cared about my spiritual walk, but they were also wise enough to recognize that trying to force anything will only cause the opposite of what is desired.  Even little children can smell manipulation and control and will do their best to run in the opposite direction! Plus they knew that I had to find my own faith in God – I couldn’t live through theirs.

Whilst respecting our children’s freedom to choose their own spiritual walk in life (choice is such an important value in the kingdom of God that He placed the tree of knowledge of good and evil right in the centre of the garden), there are definitely ways that we can help support our children in their walk with God.

Here are 6 practical things you can do to encourage your kid’s faith.

Stopping to Recognize God’s Presence

Just as calming ourselves, shutting our eyes and calling God’s presence to mind can help us in our own relationships with God, creating short spaces for our children to relax and recognize God’s Spirit shows them how simple connecting with God is.  We can tell our children that God’s Presence is all around us, and His Spirit in us, and ask them to close their eyes and recognize it.  It isn’t about feeling something, which they may or may not, but stopping to recognize God.  We can tell them they may like to acknowledge God’s Presence by telling Him we love Him or miss Him or asking Him for help. This can be done in a moment of stress or need or in a quieter moment of the day like just before bed.  Done regularly, it can help our children to seek God themselves.

Praying when they are struggling

Primary aged children often have a lot of concerns, as we do.  After my boys have shared their concern we often ask them if we can pray together about it.  Sometimes we will ask them if they want to pray or repeat a prayer or if they want us to pray.

When we have struggles – whether we are sick, struggling with a situation or needing provision in some way – we often include the boys too, sharing our struggles and asking them to pray for us.  We don’t need to go into details that they don’t need to know for them to be involved, and it is encouraging to not only hear their faith, but also for them to see the answers to prayer and to ask us how we are doing with our struggles.

Thanksgiving and celebrating

When we are in times of transition – at a birthday, at the end of a team visiting, at the end of a journey or day we often ask the boys to each share one or more things they are thankful for.  On our birthdays recently we have each been sharing something we are thankful about that person.  On the tenth anniversary of our living in Peru we bought a small cake and before cutting it we each shared three things we were thankful to God about living in Peru. We try and celebrate the things that God is doing and call them to mind.

Anna Burgess
Anna Burgess
Anna Burgess has lived in Lima, Peru with her husband Mark for 10 years. Together they have founded Oikos Ministries which oversees several small communities in Lima and supports church leaders from native tribes in the Amazon jungle. As well as homeschooling her three elementary age sons, Anna is a writer at ‘Busy Lives Need Quiet Corners’ and can be found at, where you can receive your free download: 8 ways to meet with God in 10 minutes or less.

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