The short answer is “But of course!” After all, there is only so much control one can have over another person, even little persons biologically related. Some may conclude that any answer to this question is above their paid grade. As for me, I’m not a psychologist nor a pastor/priest. Although I’ve completed seminary and did work briefly as a pastor, I do not now work in a profession that would claim to provide “professional” 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 may give me some insights that I would not otherwise have. So, with modest caution and some trepidation, I offer here a few principles. None of these I would vehemently argue for but all of them I embrace….for now. Naturally, I recognize there are exceptions to these principles, so please do grant some grace where you disagree.
- 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 viewing, then what are the chances that their children will value eating healthy food and exercising? Monkey see, monkey do.
- 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?