Should Parents Let Their Children Make Up Their Own Minds…

about religion?

The short answer is “But of course!” After all, there is only so much control one can have over another person. As I’ve said before in jest “You can break someone’s leg but you can’t make them hate it.” Some may conclude this question and the answer I offer is above my paid grade. I’m not a psychologist nor a pastor/priest. True, I’ve completed seminary but I don’t work in a profession that would claim to provide adequate counsel in this space. All I can claim is that I am a parent and a grandparent. That in itself does not “qualify” me, but it could give me some insights that otherwise I would not have. So here are a few principles, none of which I would fight for but all of which I embrace….for now. (Caveat: I recognize there are exceptions to these principles.)

  1. Letting your child decide without any direction will likely yield a child who decides no religion is worth the time or effort. After all, children really do adopt many of the values of their parents and if parents don’t value religion (in reality, not just ideally), then it’s highly likely that children will become indifferent to it. Think about it. If parents let their child decide for themselves whether or not eating healthy and exercise is something they should value, but parents are consistently overweight, tired, have no active life outside the home and TV, then what are the chances that their children will value eating healthy food and exercising? Monkey see, monkey do.
  2. Despite our best efforts, parents do not control the outcome but do influence it. Let’s face it. Even when a child grows up in a highly religious home there are no guarantees that child will remain committed to the religious tradition of the parents. That said, the deposit made in the first 18 or so years of a child’s life will likely yield some result in the same direction of that religious bent expressed while in the home.

My experience is that out of all the available religious offerings the world has offered, the Christian religious worldview is the most comprehensive. It provides the clearest lens through which to interpret and experience our world. After the spirit of E. J. Carnell and Francis Schaeffer, Christianity is logically consistent, empirically adquate, and existentially viable. In other words, it makes sense in my head, fits the facts of the material world as I understand them, and can be lived with consistently.

What do you think?

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