Sharing Your Beliefs With Your Kids
Sometimes in the midst of science projects, sports practice, and school, it’s hard to know how to communicate the things that are truly important to you and your children.
We asked NFI staff member Greg Austen, who was a pastor before his NFI life, to give some advice on this topic. How can you ensure that your core beliefs, especially spiritual ones, are effectively shared with your children?
Communicating Your Beliefs: It's primarily relational.
Greg used the familiar phrase: “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care” to highlight the importance of relationship. Without a relationship with your children, the greatest truths and beliefs don’t seem to carry much weight coming from you. Your child must see and observe, in a relational setting, how and what you believe, and the practices that you observe to reinforce those beliefs.
Communicating Your Beliefs: It's more about how you live than what you say.
Greg noted, “You are writing a gospel—a chapter each day—by the deeds that you do and the words that you say. Men read what you write, distorted or true. What is the gospel according to you?” The power of our habits and actions speak louder than our words.
You will communicate your beliefs even if you’re not trying to. Yes, it’s hard to live in a consistent way before our always-alert children’s eyes and ears, but that’s exactly why we need to live intentionally before them. When our words and our lives match, powerful things happen – both to us and our children.
Communicating Your Beliefs: It does involve explaining why you do what you do.
Greg posed the question: “If you have a testimony of life without lip, how will people know why you do what you do?” The best teachable moment can be lost, especially on younger children, if it isn’t accompanied by the context you can provide with your words.
Perhaps you make a critical choice or tough decision in front of your children – explain it! Verbalize why you think it is important to help those in need, hold down a full-time job (even when it’s not a great job), volunteer with a local organization, maintain difficult relationships or any other choice about your life or lifestyle. Your kids need to hear your rationale and see how it connects to your deepest beliefs.