Debunking a cultural myth (email 4/19/2012)

  • Do parents lose their influence as their kids get older?
  • Can parents shape the religious lives and attitudes of their children?
  • –Or, is that something that everyone has to choose for themselves?
  • Should parents should “stay out of it” and let children choose their own path?

Our culture tells us that parents should ‘stay out of it’ and let children choose their own path. Even the popular TV show Mike and Molly make such claims. Is that true? Should parents ‘stay out of it’? If we stay out of it, why should we think that things will work out the way we want them to?

here’s the Mike and Molly Video Clip (discussed in Joel’s video)

Are you the second Generation?

A study conducted in 1980 called “Young Adolescents and Their Parents” surveyed 8000 young Americans. They found that only 10% of church families discussed faith with any regularity. A whopping 43% NEVER talked about God at home.

Chances are you grew up in this era. Which means you did not grow up with the model of faith development at home. You probably didn’t have family devotions on a regular basis. You probably didn’t pray too often with your family, and you probably didn’t read the Bible at home.

It is not surprising therefore to see the next generation—today’s parents—not know what to do when it comes to faith at home. We were raised to believe that at church is where matters of God and faith happen. The role of moms and dads was to get their kids to church and in church programs. It only made sense then that churches grew their programs for kids, youth, and young adults.

Mark Holmen in his book Impress Faith on Your Kids, says, “I do not believe we have bad parents today. I don’t think you want to be a bad parent. Yet when it comes to doing what we need to do to lead our kids to life, through faith in Christ, I don’t think parents have any idea how important their actions and behaviors are.” (page 35)

There is good news and bad news in that thought. As parents we have the influence – good news! But we get what we are – nerve racking news.

If we want our kids to live for Jesus—loving Him with all of their heart, and loving others as they love themselves…. —well, then, that’s exactly what we need to be.

  • If you want your child to read the Bible more – then you need to read the Bible more
  • If you want your child to pray more – then you need to pray more
  • If you want your child to show compassion and mercy – then you need to show compassion and mercy
  • If you want God to be number one in your child’s life – then God needs to be number one in your life.
  • The opposite is also true… if you want your kids to have a shallow faith, a faith that doesn’t impact or inform their lives, a faith that crumbles under pressure and is easily swayed… then be that way yourself.
  • Want to know what you will get from your kids? Look in the mirror, and that will likely be an accurate predictor.

Quotes on parental influence

“Your home is the single most powerful arena on earth to change a life for God.”

Bruce Wilkinson – The Prayer of Jabez – page 32

“The Bible is unmistakably clear that it is the parents’ job to disciple their children.”

 Steve Wright – Rethink – page 146

“All of the different approaches to studying parental influences in the religious socialization pro­cess converge on a single conclu­sion: Parents play an extremely important role in the developing religious attitudes and practices of their offspring. In fact, few re­searchers would quarrel with the conclusion that parents are the most important influence in this regard.”

 Bob Altemeyer and Bruce Hunsberger – Amazing Conversions – page 226

“The responsibility for raising spiritual champions, according to the Bible, belongs to the parents. The spiritual nurture of children is supposed to take place in the home. Organizations and people from outside the home might support those efforts, but the responsibility is squarely laid at the feet of the family. This is not a job for specialists. It is a job for parents.”

George Barna – Revolutionary Parenting – pages 11-12


Families in Faith is a Free email resource.  We will send an email every week offering tips, suggestions, training, and encouragement to parents as they work to pass the faith on to their children.

Please share this email with others.  You can also encourage others to sign up for Families in Faith online by having them text the word “families” to 22828 or go to 

  Created by Dr. Joel Dietrich

Minister to Families and Children
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church
8304 Old Keene Mill Rd  –  Springfield, VA  22152

©2012, all rights reserved

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