Now there’s a great old song from a great rock band (CSNY) that I had the pleasure of seeing in 2002 with my brother and his wife, in Denver at the Pepsi Center. Great concert! But that’s actually not what this post is about. 🙂
I was thinking about what it means to teach our children, or in the Biblical words, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) Does it mean to tell them what is right and true in no uncertain terms, and that they must believe it? Hmmm.
I taught my children how to behave when they were young, as far as that aspect goes. I taught them to say “Yes ma’am”, and “Yes sir”, “please” and “thank you”. Things like that, I taught them and expected of them. I tried to teach them to be respectful to me as their mother, though they certainly challenged me through the years on that one at times. 🙂 But as far as teaching them about Christianity, I took them to church when they were little, sure. They learned about God and about Christianity there, and from me at home too. It was somewhat difficult, since I played the piano or organ in churches for many years, and since my first husband, their father, didn’t often attend church, to teach them how to behave in church. I could tell you some funny stories about that, actually, like once when I finished playing the opening music at a church service and looked out there when I was done at my 3 children sitting in the front. My eldest was giving me the most pitiful look and putting her hand to her head, indicating that she didn’t feel well. And that was typical. She didn’t feel well because she’d rather not have been sitting out there in church, but would rather have been home playing or something.
I used to teach piano lessons, to take the topic off of God for a minute. I had this one student who was 12 years old, and she was very talented. She had a natural gift. But every time she came to her lesson she would break into tears and cry, because her mother was making her take the lessons, and she didn’t want to. I talked to the mother about it one day and told her that her daughter really was very talented, but perhaps she should try a different approach of ‘encouraging’ her child to take the lessons, rather than forcing her to. And the mother told me in no uncertain terms, “She’s going to take the lessons whether she likes it or not.” So, I did my best to teach her and encourage her through it myself. But she would always come and cry, and continued to hate it. Was her mother wrong in her approach? I don’t know. I think so, personally.
So back to the topic of Christianity…I took the approach with my kids of always letting them know what I believed and why. If they wanted to come to me with some different approach or idea, I would discuss it with them, again explaining my viewpoint, but never forcing my own on them. And I did that with other topics too, like abortion or various issues.
There came a point in time when my eldest daughter was professing atheism. She will tell you now, that she was more of an agnostic than an atheist. But at the time, which went on for a long time, she blatantly professed disbelief in God and angrily so. I never told her she was wrong, or that she had to change. I never turned against her through it. And 11 years ago, quietly one night, she accepted Christ. Interestingly, it was very shortly after that when my first husband suddenly died from a brain aneurysm. She was devastated, as we all were, and it could certainly have been a reason for her to turn away from God again. But she didn’t, and for the last 11 years has been faithfully practicing her Christian faith, and growing in it…even in the midst of many, many deep trials that she has undergone since.
My son also left the Christian belief he was raised in, and examined various other ways…various other beliefs or lacks thereof. He was more of a ‘deist’, I think, mostly through that time. This went on for a long time. And now at 33, he has only recently returned to the Christian faith, proclaiming that “Christianity is the only religion that makes sense.”
So in the end…some may say I didn’t train my children in the way they should go very well, or they never would’ve departed from it. But to me, what is a faith that is there because someone tells you that you MUST believe it? It is nothing…it is worthless. Faith in anything is only good if it comes from a place within that has examined it from all sides, and determined it to be a reality on one’s own.
Love and blessings,