Can You Still Raise Children That Will Stay in the Faith?

If there’s one Bible verse that offers hope—and sometimes heartache—to parents, it's Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

The hopeful part is clear. All Christian parents want their children to embrace the faith and accept Jesus as their Savior. Those who are parents know the pitfalls of this world and recognize that a solid, active faith can help our little ones, teens, and young adults avoid much tragedy and sorrow.

But those parents also know the potential heartache: Some kids don’t follow the faith of their parents. Some even radically depart from the beliefs in which they were raised, although the hope is always there that a wayward daughter or son might return. The story of the Prodigal Son is in the gospel accounts for good reason!

Amidst all of this, there’s some extra hope today’s parents can cling to, and it comes courtesy of the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in Boston. The bottom line: Take your children to church each week and they’re more likely to be happier and better-adjusted in life.

“Youths who regularly attend religious services, pray or meditate may get a well-being boost that sticks around into young adulthood,” according to the Deseret News in Salt Lake City. According to the article, those who attend services “at least weekly” during their youth and adolescence are “about 18 percent more apt to report higher happiness between ages 23 [to] 30 than those who didn't; 29 percent more likely to be volunteers; [and] 33 percent less likely to use illegal drugs.”

And the nightly ritual of saying one’s prayers as a child may have great value too. According to the study, kids who pray (or meditate) at least daily, were “16 percent more likely to report higher happiness; 30 percent less likely to have sex at a young age; [and were] 40 percent less likely to have a sexually transmitted disease.”

Harvard’s Tyler J. VanderWeele, the study’s main author, is not suggesting ironclad results for every child who prays or who attends worship each week. It’s just that doing these things dramatically increases the likelihood of these positive outcomes.

"The research indicates that, on average, the effects of a religious community are profoundly positive," VanderWeele told the Deseret News in an email. "Ceasing those practices will, on average, likely lead to worse health and well-being outcomes."

Given the pressures that the world is all too happy to place on children these days, the best thing parents can do is offer a positive, Christ-filled example. That includes regular family prayer and weekly attendance at worship.

Would you like to learn more about guiding your children in this challenging culture? You'll be blessed by Pastor Doug Batchelor's message The Hand that Rocks the Cradle. You may also enjoy this message from Amazing Facts' first speaker, Joe Crews.

We'd like to hear from you! Let us know in the comments below about the challenges you face as a parent of faith—and what you're doing to help your children follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

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