Family times of planned faith conversations will only be authentic if God is a part of the parent’s everyday life. Children must see their parents living and speaking like Christians during the day. They need to see them having personal times of prayer and Bible study. They need to see their parents making church attendance a priority. Children who know that their parents are trying to live out what they are teaching will listen. Children are also great at spotting hypocrisy.
One particular day I was scolding my daughters because of the mess in their room. It was particularly bad, and I wanted them to clean it. My oldest daughter told me that she wanted to say something, but she wasn’t sure how to say it respectfully. Trying to be understanding, I asked her to say it in the best way she knew how. In her most polite voice, she said, “Well, Mommy, I know our room is a mess, but your room looks bad too.” Shaking my head, I realized that she was right! I was telling my girls to do something that I had not modeled. The same can be true of faith conversations. I can’t honestly talk with my girls about loving their enemies if they hear me gossiping about people. I can’t ask them to be brave in new situations if I am not willing to be brave myself.
One final note, let parents know that they do not have to be perfect to have faith conversations with their children. The only requirement is honesty. Parents should be age-appropriate, of course, in what they tell their children, so there are some issues they should not share. However, some struggles are universal: fear, worry, being kind, etc. For example, if parents struggle with worry, they can still help their child who is worrying. Share how God is helping them and commit to praying about the issue together.