Key #1 to Growing Faith: Caring Conversations

Key 1: Caring Conversations

caringconvpicThe “luminaries” in the field of Christian Education have identified four “keys,” four faith practices, that cultivate the most fertile ground to grow faith at home. Marilyn Sharpe (of Marilyn Sharpe Ministries) urges parents to tackle this key first, to develop a habit of talking with, and listening to, your children. John Roberto, of the Youth and Family Institute, says that these “supportive conversations are the key to passing on faith to the next generation.”

Marilyn Sharpe writes that “Caring conversations are the floor under all of our close relationships and are the way we model and transmit Christian values and faith to the next generation. Listening deeply, respectfully, and with great care, and speaking with love and gentleness helps children experience the love of God. Responding to the daily concerns of our children gives us their trust and the credibility to invite them to express God’s love to others.”

And John Roberto reminds us that: “Listening and responding to the daily concerns of family members make it easier to have meaningful conversations regarding the love of God, and are ways to express God’s love to others.”

The very last thing we are suggesting you to do is to sit your children down and announce that you are about to have a “caring conversation.” My children would have run screaming from the room, hiding from the aliens that had obviously inhabited their parents. Instead, try to intentionally, but subtly, introduce this practice into your family’s routine. This is where it begins:

  • Try to notice how often you are looking at a “screen” when your kids are talking to you. (Gulp, guilty….) Gradually build time “without” screens into the time you spend with your children. Notice the questions they ask, the things they reveal to you when they have your full attention.
  • Introduce a practice of  “highs and lows” into your family dinner time or drive time (or bathtime, you get it!)  Ask what was their “high” for today (what was the best thing that happened today) and what was their “low” (what was the worst thing that happened today.) Share your own highs and lows as well. These “highs and lows” can gradually be turned into prayers, offering gratitude for the blessings they encountered this week, and asking God’s help for the “lows” they faced. This models a practice of gratitude for all things, as well as the fact that God cares about all of the lows of our life, and even wants us to “cast our cares” on Him (1 Peter 5: 7)

This is where you begin. This is the best place to “start” as you think about intentionally laying the groundwork for faith conversations to occur. And it pays off in dividends later – as your children grow and become teens, they will be accustomed to sharing their joys and their struggles with the beautiful triad of family and God, especially when you, as parents, model the “lifting up” of your own “highs and lows.”