Children are naturally curious about the things around them and the origins of life. They may ask questions about creation, such as where they came from or why they were made. They may have heard you talk about God, and they may have wondered aloud what God looks like and if he has friends, or if he is lonely. Children that are raised in a religious home will contemplate life’s great questions from a spiritual point of view, and their insights are bound to surprise you at times.
If you wish to raise your children with a strong religious foundation, it is helpful to expose them to religion and God in ways that meet them at their level of maturity and understanding. Below are some tips to assist you in introducing your children to religion.
Check with your church or house of worship to see if they have any after-school or weekend programs that are geared toward young children. For example, many Southern Baptist churches offer “AWANA,” which is much like Cub Scouts, but more spiritually based. Participants begin the program at the age of three and earn badges for memorization and understanding of bible verses.
Enroll your child in a religious study class that is geared toward their age group while you attend a religious service for adults. This will give the children an opportunity to make friends within the religion and also to begin learning and worshipping in an age-appropriate fashion. In Christian churches, such programs are often known as “Sunday School.”
God is in everything around you. As your child begins to become aware of God, creation and God’s presence, look around you for the simplest items to stimulate conversation, from the new buds of spring to the unique patterns on the vegetables you are cooking for dinner; you are certain to find God all around you.
Keep It Simple
Keep religious discussions simple so as not to overwhelm or deter your child’s budding religious interests. Explain the general ideas of your religion, and if you believe them to be fact, explain them as such. The strength of your conviction will be the foundation for your child’s faith.
Rituals and repetition are important tools when teaching children anything. Attending religious services, praying before bedtime and meals, lighting candles and counting blessings are all activities that include God in your daily activities, even those which are seemingly trivial.
Books and DVDs
Many religions have cartoon movies and children’s books that illustrate life’s big questions and set the answers before the children in a vivid way that both helps them understand God and simply become as “matter-of-fact” in their lives as Barney or Elmo. This can stimulate your child’s religious interests and create a comfort level in their mind as they become acquainted with the rituals of church and religious instruction.