MOMMY, MOMMY, WE GOT MUSLIMS! MOMMY, MOMMY, WHAT’S A JEW? MOMMY, MOMMY, I JUST GOT BAPTIZED!
One of the best things that you can do for your kids and your family is to prepare them for the world that they will face when they leave home. DUH! Many Bible believing, Jesus loving Christians have a hide & retreat, if not hunker in the bunker mentality against the world. BUT, I see this, as well, with Muslims, Jews, and others. We prepare our children with education, finances, social skills, and, hopefully, faith.
The way that you prepare them is to engage them in the world before they leave home. Some parents get shocked because they kept their kids isolated and protected in their schools, homes, and churches only to find out when they leave home, they leave their faith as well. The premise behind this behavior is that if we keep them isolated, and indoctrinate, indoctrinate, indoctrinate, then when they leave home they will be strong and not change. It’s a faulty premise. Not even Adam & Eve could pull that off with the best of environments!
I recommend connect, connect, connect them with their neighborhood, their city, and their world. This really is the 21stcentury – not a compartmentalized 12th century, or adventure for the few 15th century, or industrial 19th century, or even connecting 20th century. We are the connected and “migrated” and “migrating” 21st century where everyone lives everywhere! Watch world news with them and talk about issues in the context of your faith and they will be much stronger.
YES, YES, YES, they will question things – but it will enable you to deal with their questions when they arise. You will also be present versus gone and less in their life and have no voice into those questions. I might add that in the midst you will grow as well. Frankly, as a follower of Jesus, I’ve come to believe that growing up in a “mono-religious” culture is bad for my faith and my family!
My children grew up going to Vietnam and became friends with “communists” and “atheist” and “Buddhist” and “animist” and then “Muslims!” Nikki and I were always busy with answering questions. But what they saw their mom and dad do (and we involved them as much as possible) was live their faith in a real world, dealing with real issues, real questions, and real people – not just faces on the news being positioned without benefit of relationships.
My daughter is now incredibly passionate about working with refugees and
my son is incredibly passionate about doing global business.
It really shouldn’t shock anyone that children leaving home check out on faith when we isolate them. Our education, our economics, indeed our entire life is connected to “secular” society. When our faith is disconnected and not lived out in the public square, or worse ridiculed in the public square and your children are not prepared to give intelligent answers other than “That’s not what Mama taught” – don’t expect a lot. I love Francis Collins, author of The Language of God, Director of National Institute of Health and the man in charge of the Human Genome Project. His parents homeschooled him to keep him away from the public school teachers who were Christians! They were atheists. Science led him back to God!
So what can you do??
1. Read Bold As Love for yourself and slowly walk your children through the principles. It explains how the world has changed, it deals with basic and simple apologetics, it tells stories of everyday people relating to people of faith. Muslims and Jews alike are reading it.
2. Build a relationship with the most diverse family on your block. Let your kids play together. Have them in your home. When they invite you over or out – go. Read up on their culture or faith or whatever it is that makes them diverse. Let your children see you affirm them in their diversity. That doesn’t mean you’re giving up your faith. Your neighborhood is the safest place to do that because you all have a common shared interest.
3. Have “global” night once a month or once a quarter – where you all dress up like people from another part of the world – as best you can – and eat what they eat – as best you can! Everyone shares what they’ve learned about that country or culture.
4. Teach your children about other religions and explain what is different about your faith. When my children were young and went to Vietnam it led to many questions about what is Atheism, Buddhism, and Ancestor Worship. Atheism made me think philosophically about why I believe there is a God. Bhuddism, made me think about why I am a monotheist. Ancestor worship wasn’t too hard for me not to believe in – you’d have to know my ancestors! Take your children to visit different places of worship. Even being from East Texas I remember a Sunday School teacher taking us to a synagogue to visit – though, I think the teacher did get in trouble with the pastor over it (my dad no less)!
5. Once a week watch news – real news like BBC – not American right or left news – and talk about the stories you see and what is happening.
6. Serve others, and as a follower of Jesus, I do it in the name of Jesus. In every city, and even small towns – there are poor, there are refugees, there are minorities – and not just traditional minorities.
7. Host an exchange student. We say we have 3 kids– one was an exchange student from Vietnam named Ti – we love him and still think of him as our own. He isn’t “religious” – and when he came, I told him, “We pray over our food, don’t worry it’s short prayers – but you don’t have to pray but we will pray – you can pray to yourself or nothing.” The last day he was with us when we sat down to eat the meal – he asked if he could pray. I’ll never forget that – no, he’s not a Christian, yes, I wish he was – and yes Nikki and I will always love him like our own.
8. Give your kids space to think through and disagree. It can be really painful when they question the faith. The harder you push, the more they may run. Those questions aren’t bad – they are the base of a truly strong faith that will endure a lifetime.
To retreat and respond to the world in fear is not sustainable and it is not biblical. Jesus has called us to charge forward . . . . . That starts at home!
Bob is the founder, senior leader, and chief spokesman for Glocal.net . His primary focus is to connect leaders and estabish relationships to explore transformation. Follow Bob on Twitter at @bobrobertsjr.