During one of the most trying moments in our family’s life, I heard my young son say that God may not be hearing our prayers right. That if He did, He will not allow bad things to happen to us. I was momentarily struck by the contradiction: his question of whether God hears our prayers and his certainty that God will not allow bad things to happen.
I allowed him to say what he wanted and listened attentively. He was obviously confused and hurting. He was expressing doubts but at the same time believing. How can we parents guide our children in faith during the most difficult times like this?
We Lay the Foundation
Parents should start early in creating a strong foundation for religious and spiritual formation. We all trace our personal strengths and weaknesses from our roots. Children who have strong spiritual foundation grow up to be adults who are not easily demolished by life’s challenges and trials.
We Guide Accordingly
The degree of guidance parents give to children should never really change. It is only in the manner of giving it that should be adjusted according to age and the situation. Children who are confident that they are loved and respected could easily relate spirituality with real life and not simply with that which is taught and memorized like standard prayers.
We Listen Without Judging
Parents should try their best to refrain from making judgments and voicing them out based on sporadic outbursts that question faith. These are the times when our children need us to be their parents more than anything else. Parents accept their children no matter what but will do everything to lead them to the straight path.
Going back to my son’s story, I basically let him pour out his feelings, only interjecting my thoughts and advice where I felt it was needed. After some time, he probably came to some self-realization and said sorry for his outburst. Maybe, he just wanted some assurance which I also needed, and so we prayed together and found peace.
Guiding our children in faith is not easy given the human limitations that parents are likewise subjected to but that is part of our task as caretakers. Parents need to be adults who live lives that reflect what they teach. Actions are more easily remembered than words.