Helping your child develop their faith
Even if you’ve been the primary care provider for your child since their birth, that God has been with you along the way. Your child is also a child of God. And like you, God wants what is best.
Helping your child to build a relationship with God during their youth and young adult years will establish a lifelong resource that will provide empowerment and guidance for the rest of their lives. You cannot be everywhere all the time; God can.
Young people want to discover what lies ahead for them, and listening for God’s voice as they discern their path is important. Children and youth can build their spiritual muscles throughout their lives by learning about their faith and living according to the example of Jesus. Parents can help their teens build a strong relationship with God by:
- Attending worship as a family and reflecting on worship experiences
- Encouraging participation at church through youth group attendance and opportunities for faith education and service
- Making sure there is a Bible available for your teen to read
- Praying regularly with and for your child
- Sending their child to a faith-based summer camp
- Encourage your child’s participation in campus ministry or other faith-based organizations in their college years
- Of course, encourage your child to spend time in the Explorer section of the Timothy Circle website. It’s full of resources to help them grow in their faith and sense of calling, and they can even explore their call through the online Trail Guide — all for free.
Celebrating God’s work
Just as young children achieve a variety of milestones as they grow and develop, your adolescent child experiences milestones too. Some are momentous occasions like Confirmation, starting or finishing high school, or gaining independence by driving a car. Other milestones slip by without much fanfare – the first time your teen gets a job outside the home, helps a neighbor “just because”, or expresses an interest in a particular hobby or endeavor. And yet each one of these milestones leads your child closer to what the future has in store for them – how they will earn a living, serve their community, or use their gifts and follow their passions.
It’s important for parents to celebrate all areas of who their child is growing to be. Birthdays and holidays are traditional moments for celebration, and scouting and religious activities can involve ceremonies and rituals that honor achievement and growth. In addition to these, parents can remind their children throughout their lives that God is working in them and through them, calling out the gifts God has placed in each one of us and celebrating the goodness that rises from those gifts. For example:
- Praise your teen with specific affirmations that call out their gifts and skills.
- “You’re always the first one to notice typos in the newspaper.”
- “I love the way you blended current events with historical information to go deeper with your history project.”
- “I appreciate how you make up games to play with your little brother when I’m busy doing other things.”
- “You are always so supportive of your teammates, even when the game doesn’t go your way.”
- Watch for opportunities to celebrate God’s presence throughout their growing years.
- Invite family members to be present when your child participates at church.
- Plan a gathering of family and friends for big moments like Confirmation and graduation.
- Ask family members and close friends to write notes of affirmation for “big” birthdays like 16th, 18th, or 21st. Invite them to name the strengths they see in your child and share advice on becoming an adult.
- Encourage your child to keep a gratitude journal throughout their years of adolescence. They will experience many highs and lows, and sometimes finding things to be thankful for is a stretch. Having a journal to look back on later can help teens to recognize how God was with them all along, and will be there for them in their next steps ahead.