Nothing comes close to the influence of parents in the religious formation of their children. Today, Dr. Sri looks at the latest sociological research on religious parenting so we can better understand how to raise kids in the Catholic faith in contemporary society. He summarizes the four main principles that every parent should learn when passing on the faith to their children in today’s secular age.
Snippet from the Show
Nothing replaces the influence of parents when it comes to passing on the faith to their children.
In this episode, Dr. Sri breaks down the research found in the book- Religious Parenting: Transmitting Faith and Values in Contemporary America. This book investigates how American parents transmit religious beliefs, values, and practices to their kids.
No matter what your parenting experience has been like, it’s important to realize that parenting is like farming. Parents should strive to prepare the soil of their children’s hearts and plant the seed of faith, and then entrust their children to God because there will always be things beyond their control.
Here are the main factors that influence the likelihood of children embracing religion as adults based on the research compiled in the book:
- Parents exert the greatest influence in their children’s religious outcomes
According to the book, nothing replaces the influence of parents when it comes to passing on the faith to their children. The parents’ witness and example practicing their faith every day is the most influential factor in their children’s religious outcomes. No program, summer camp, video, book, or resource can replace the example of the parents genuinely living out their faith at home. Children learn religion from watching their parents pray and live out the teachings of their faith. For Catholics, if children see their parents placing Christ in the center of their daily lives, pursuing virtue, imitating Christ in their actions, and living out their faith with joy, it will have lasting impact on their children’s lives. When parents sincerely practice their faith and Catholic values, the faith truly takes root in their children’s hearts.
- Practicing an authoritative parenting style
An authoritative parenting style embraces the two sides of love, the soft side and the hard side of love. It’s a style that balances affection and discipline. It’s important for parents to be gentle, understanding, compassionate and affectionate. There has to be a a heart to heart connection between parents and their children, and children should feel encouraged and loved deeply by their parents. At the same time, it’s essential to discipline kids and to hold them to high standards so they can flourish. Holding children to high standards in the faith, in virtue, in fulfilling their obligations will set them free to truly give the best of themselves. It’s necessary for kids to learn responsibility and accountability. The authoritative parenting style sets clear expectations for their children, but also makes known the parents’ unconditional love for their children.
- Parents who routinely talk about faith and religion at home
Conversations about the faith at home also play a significant role. These conversations should be a normal part of daily family life, not just on Sundays or special occasions. It’s important to allow children to ask questions and express their thoughts in these conversations while also clearly transmitting truth. These conversations should never be forced and always remain natural.
- Connecting children to experiences that supplement the faith
It’s important for parents to directly connect their children to experiences that reinforce the faith. Intentionally seeking activities, groups, programs and friendships that will supplement the faith for their children is very impactful.
What have you learned in your experience passing down the faith to your children? Let me know by emailing me at email@example.com
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Dr. Edward Sri is a theologian, well-known Catholic speaker, and author of several best-selling books. His work with Ascension includes study programs such as A Biblical Walk Through the Mass, No Greater Love: A Biblical Walk Through Christ’s Passion and Mary: A Biblical Walk with the Blessed Mother. Several of Dr. Sri’s programs were filmed on-site in the Holy Land, and feature immersive video explorations of the sacred sites where Jesus, Mary, and the Apostles lived and died.
Dr. Sri is the host of the acclaimed Ascension podcast All Things Catholic with Dr. Edward Sri. Together with Curtis Martin, Dr. Sri is a founding leader of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), of which he serves as senior vice president of Apostolic Outreach.
Dr. Sri lives with his wife Beth and their children in Colorado.