Whether you do or don’t identify with a specific religious or spiritual community, there are many benefits to raising your children within a faith-based environment. Most world religions follow similar principles concerning family life and child-rearing. In effect, the family values that most religions endorse are values that parents strive to instill within their children whether they are religiously devout or not.
When it comes to parenting and instilling values within your children’s lives, you’ll be inundated with ideas, options, and paths to follow. Raising your children with faith or religion is one such path. Like anything, your children will look to you for guidance so it’s up to you as a parent to model the important values and ideals you want your children to follow. Religion is not a substitute for parenting, but it can definitely be considered a solid foundation in which to support your goals.
There are many advantages to having religion play a central role within your family. Maybe spirituality is already a big part of your family life or perhaps it isn’t, but you’d like it to be. Whatever the case, read further and you’ll find 10 incredible reasons to raise kids with religion.
Almost all religions encourage family life to be a top priority. Ideally, all parents want to focus on their family life and make it number one, but this can prove difficult when work and other commitments get in the way. That’s not to say that by joining a specific religion you will suddenly become more family-oriented, but it will encourage spending time together as a family and provide a variety of fun opportunities to do so.
Family and religion tend to go together. Family is often the backbone of religion and in some cases vice versa. However, organized religion or any level of spirituality is not a requirement for a family to maintain a strong bond. If maintaining a strong family bond is important to you, religion is one of many ways for you to strive to achieve this goal.
Belonging to a particular faith or belief organization usually provides you with a built-in support network for whatever trials and tribulations your family is going through. Clergy members can usually provide guidance to newlyweds or new parents or help members find a particular support network for whatever their needs happen to be.
As well, the congregation will be comprised of like-minded individuals who can be counted on during stressful or trying times. That’s not to say that it is impossible to find a supportive network if you don’t belong to some sort of faith or spiritually based organization; it’s simply another benefit of belonging to one.
Practicing religion, spirituality or some level of faith-based belief can instill a connection in your children to the rest of the world. Many people who make spirituality a priority within their lives claim feelings of belonging to something meaningful and special.
Even if you’re not affiliated with a particular religion, the broad concept of spirituality often promotes an open-ended way of thinking that values all religions, belief systems, and people of the world. In turn, this models various behaviors that promote inclusivity, tolerance, kindness, and compassion.
By feeling connected to a larger network than just your immediate family, the sense of belonging it may provide you with will foster respect for others and a sense of unity for all mankind. That said, practicing what you preach by actually living your day-to-day life following the principles of spirituality are more important that belonging to an organized religion and attending services.
While one of the primary functions of religion is to foster this strong sense of connection among people, that doesn’t necessarily mean that this connection is automatic by attending church. It also doesn’t mean that a person must consider themselves religious or spiritual in order to feel a connection to others.
Religion has been around for a long time and is so widespread among the world’s population that it clearly provides an important function within society by satisfying a basic need in some individuals. However, there’s no debating that it obviously isn’t for everybody.
By providing some individuals with a clear purpose in life and a feeling of being connected to something larger than themselves, it promotes the importance of forgiveness, compassion, gratitude, and kindness. When you encompass these traits day-to-day, it often results in your living a happy and positive life.
There are many health benefits often associated with religion or practicing some sort of spirituality. Belonging to a large network of support and positivity can provide comfort and reduce stress and anxiety. The feelings of connection and purpose that often derive from practicing religion can help individuals develop coping skills and in turn help them achieve a positive outlook on life.
Religiously-sanctioned behaviors like compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, and reflection can definitely boost health and well-being. But spirituality does not have to be a precursor for individuals to practice these behaviors and model them in their daily living. When it’s all said and done, if you possess a positive outlook on life and feel like you are making a difference in some way, this can contribute to your good heath--both mentally and physically.
A sense of community can be all-encompassing or limited to your immediate neighborhood. Most religions and faith-based systems promote the concept of community at both levels. In our multi-faith world, it is coming to light that people of all faiths and beliefs need to learn to live and work together. This is achieved by being respectful of each other and our varying beliefs.
When you get right down to it, most organized religions are based on the same life principles: family values, moral behavior, honesty, and virtue. When you look at all religions and try to find elements that they share, this way of thinking promotes community cohesion.
There is also a sense of community among people belonging to a specific spiritual or faith-based system. This community is made up of like-minded individuals who come together on a regular basis to practice their beliefs. Oftentimes, people belonging to the same congregation consider themselves related to one another and may turn to each other for support.
Again, there are many ways to raise community-minded children, and being involved with religion or spirituality is one of many options to consider.
Most religions share the same values within their core--values such as respect, compassion, generosity, kindness, and honesty. And these are values that every good parent strives to instill within their children. If you are a parent, you already know this can be easier said than done, especially when you are competing with outside influences like TV, movies, the internet, video games, and music. Unfortunately, these elements may end up shaping our children’s views and outlooks on life much more than we would like.
When you belong to a specific faith-based organization, regularly attend services as a family and take part in activities with like-minded individuals, you are in fact creating a larger support network for yourself in helping to instill important values within your children. You can lean on this network when life gets busy to help back up the beliefs and values you want to pass on to your children.
Of course, if you are looking to impart values to your children, it’s mandatory that you model them yourself. Your kids are watching you live your life and will most likely embrace similar beliefs and values to your own. Preferably, the members of your congregation are living their lives in a similar way to you.
That way, if your children ever need to turn to trusted individuals for advice (other than you), you can rest easy that your religious network will guide them in the same direction that you yourself would.
Gratitude may be something that comes naturally to you or it may be something that requires work in order for you to achieve. Whatever the case, giving thanks is often a vital component found in most organized religions. It is important to try and practice thoughtful reflection as it often leads to feelings of gratitude. With or without religion in your life, you can make a habit of searching out daily blessings in your everyday life.
Spirituality often takes reflections of gratitude a step further by stressing the importance of publicly expressing this gratitude through our behavior toward others. This includes being thoughtful and compassionate, caring, and generous toward others.
Religion and spirituality often remind us to be grateful for things we most often take for granted and don’t even think about such as our health, our children, the families we have, and the life we are living. In order to reflect and be thoughtful of these blessings, it may require us to slow down. Experiencing gratitude toward things we often overlook and take for granted is not generally as automatic as the gratitude we feel for receiving something special and unexpected such as a windfall of money.
Many people who consider themselves religious or spiritual count on their belief system to buoy them up during difficult times. When you are suffering, and feeling helpless--as if you have no control over a situation, spirituality can be a grounding force for you. Your faith can take control and provide you with a feeling of purpose and a sense of guidance. This can be a great source of comfort to you and your family. No matter what your family is going through--a death, illness or divorce--your faith can help you get through it.
Your belief system can also provide you with an intricate support network consisting of members of your congregation and your clergy. If you feel overwhelmed and alone, this support system can provide you with advice, encouragement or even just a shoulder to cry on.
A spiritual perspective may offer you with a different viewpoint of your situation. Oftentimes, religion will put a silver lining spin on even the most devastating of situations. If you are diagnosed with cancer, your religion may remind you to be thankful for what you do have and help you remember to focus on what is important in your life.
As we all know, life isn’t always easy. While religion and spirituality aren’t for everyone, they can definitely be a source of comfort and guidance for some. They may be the way for you to get your family through a difficult time while also being a role model to your children in overcoming life’s unexpected obstacles with grace and perseverance.
The concept of death can be terrifying to children. Heck, it can be pretty scary for adults as well. Unfortunately, kids cannot be sheltered from this inevitable reality forever. It may make things easier to start an open-ended conversation with your kids about death, dying and the meaning of life so that they feel comfortable talking about it and asking questions.
If you are religious or spiritual, this may be a great starting point for your conversation. You can start off by discussing what you believe happens to a person when they die. And the discussion may open into what different people with varying faiths believe and the many theories revolving around the afterlife, reincarnation, and constructs like heaven and hell.
Discussing an uncomfortable topic like death with your children will not only educate them, but may even encourage them to be less fearful and uncomfortable when dealing with realities like dying, grief and bereavement. Children eventually need to learn how to accept death and how to behave in its presence.
Death is an undeniable fact of life whether you are religious or not. The benefit of looking at death through a spiritual lens is that oftentimes it becomes a great way to ease into a conversation with your children. And even though there are no definite answers, a strongly held faith can be a great source of comfort to a child when first wrapping their head around the idea of death. Any kind of discussion with your child where they feel free to ask questions and voice their concerns will better equip them to deal with issues revolving around death.