Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Raising our children to know and love the Savior is the most important thing we can do for their salvation. They want to learn. They want to know. They feel His love. They have perfect childlike faith in us and in the Savior.
While they are children is the time to teach them of His love and show them how to find and follow Him. While they are children is the time to teach them that all love and true happiness comes from Him. They need to form their own relationship with Christ and this starts as a child.
I have pondered and studied effective ways to raise our children to have Christian values; to raise our children to know and feel of Christ’s love and learn of the happiness that comes from following Him. A few of the habits and skills I have found to be most effective are highlighted below.
Daily Family Prayers
Children learn to pray by watching us. Before they can talk they learn to fold their arms and bow their heads. When we pray daily as families they learn how to pray. They learn that we pray. They learn that prayers are answered. They learn that God is there. He is listening. He will help them. They feel His love.
Daily Scripture Study
When we read the scriptures daily our children learn where to find the truth. They learn where the answers are. They form habits.
Sometimes this is not easy as kids love to be active and we are trying to get them to sit, to listen. They are playing, they are singing, they are wiggling. But somehow they are also learning.
To help their attention spans we skim the verses we will be reading and choose a word for them to shout. For example, “baptism.” Every time we say “baptism” all the children shout “BAPTISM!” This helps keep their attention and also teaches them important words.
One of the 10 Commandments is stated in Exodus 20:8-10: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.”
What a blessing for us! A day for us and our children to focus on God and our relationship with Him!
We show our children He is our priority when we attend church and make a special effort to make our Sabbath day a holy day. When we use that day to attend church, reach out to others around us, fellowship, and to have special family time we teach our children to follow Christ. We teach them how and where to find Him. We place our children in holy places where they will feel His love.
At church we are surrounding our children with other faithful followers of Christ – other great examples for them to follow. They learn the importance of supporting each other, and benefit from the sermons and lessons they hear there.
Making family time a priority shows our children we love them. They learn about love from us. They feel the Savior’s love when there is harmony and happiness within our family.
In our busy and technological world it is easy to disconnect from each other. We need to make extra efforts to engage each other, to spend time together, having meaningful spiritual discussions along with just having fun together.
When our children feel loved, safe, and happy within their family unit they will more easily feel Christ’s love for them.
Pictures on the Wall
Another way I teach my children about Christ’s love for them is by putting up pictures of Christ around the house, and especially in their bedrooms. I put one of Him with a child.
I also have pictures of them with their parents, siblings, and grandparents. From their infancy I point out the people and tell them they love them. “Look who loves you! Your Momma loves you! Your Daddy loves you! Your Grandma loves you! Jesus loves you! He loves you most of all!”
My children must have really liked this, because when we moved and I hadn’t put the pictures up on the walls yet I began noticing all the pictures of Jesus disappeared… and I found them in my daughter’s bedroom where she kept putting them up. She now has a collage of pictures of Jesus in there!
Recognize the Teaching Moments
I think the hardest, but most important thing to raising children to follow Christ is to recognize the small, teachable moments. The moments when your child wants to talk. When your child has a question.
Usually this is at an inconvenient time when you have other plans and things you would rather do. For my daughter this is usually at bedtime. After bedtime. When I am so past done putting her to bed and I want to get on with my long list of other things needing to be done. That’s when she comes out with her sweet questions, “How does Jesus know us? How old is Jesus now? Did Grandma know Jesus?”
Recognize God’s Love and His Spirit
Our children will feel God’s love when we surround them with songs and scriptures about Christ, teach them about Christ, and show Christ’s love and service by example.
Sometimes though, they might become accustomed to these feelings or not connect these feelings to their source. I have found it is helpful to recognize when your child feels God’s love and discuss it with them. Discuss how happy they feel. How loved they feel. Teach them God sends those feelings of love.
They will learn God is the source of happiness and love. They will desire to follow Him when they have a relationship with Him, and recognize His feelings of love for them.
Sometimes it is hard to know what children are actually understanding about Christ. As my mother-in-law likes to say regarding parenting, “It’s more important to have ‘quantity time’ than ‘quality time’ because you don’t know when the moment will be special for the child.”
The same applies with teaching children about Christ and Christian Values. The more we make the moments possible the more likely they will feel His love and form a relationship with Christ.
~ By Trina Wilkinson