The National Study of Youth and Religion indicates that 82% of children raised by parents who talked about faith at home attach great importance to their beliefs and were active in church as adults. Similar studies and surveys show that intentional parenting children in faith matters. Yet John Trent surveyed hundreds of parents and discovered that only 30% did anything purposefully to build and grow their children’s faith outside of bringing them to church.
Moms and Dads love to dress their little girls like princesses and those girls quickly catch on to a desire for outer beauty. Start a campaign to grow the inner beauty of the Fruit of the Spirit and change the focus of parents and girls to inner beauty.
Model and Equip
Pastors and leaders should encourage and equip families to parent faith at home, especially if you are raising daughters. It begins with pastors modeling it in their own families and weaving in anecdotes about faith talks at home. Hearing that the pastor’s family discusses questions and includes faith activities in the own family encourages others to follow the example and shares insights into how it’s done. One pastor weaving in the difficulty of learning to braid his daughter’s hair brought laughter but then an insight as the pastor added how he reminded his little girl that God counts her hairs and knew if he pulled too hard and yanked one out.
Bring up the stories of how your family develops the inner growth of patience, joy, self-control, and more. That makes it authentic.
Add tips in small ways through Sunday school materials and the church bulletin. Years ago, I wrote a weekly family tip for my local church bulletin. It gave a chat question, tie to local news, or a tradition to adopt. It amazed me to discover how popular that became and how many families mentioned using it. Recruit a parent or your family ministry leaders to write short tips, or use quotes from parenting books and blogs. A column on inner beauty tips for raising girls and one for raising boys of character can highlight differences in a world or political correctness wants sameness to chip away at God creating men and women.
Equip parents with what to do. Encourage MOPS groups to be held at your church and ask how you can help, possibly with adding to the group/s library.
One church in Minnesota holds an annual parenting night that includes sample devotionals and parenting books. That lets parents browse and consider what to buy. Consider an evening to equip parents to raise girls or one on parenting that includes a session on raising girls. Your local retailer could set up a table, possibly offer a discount, and give a presentation about some of the new releases and popular books. Add testimonies from parents of girls of various ages who do devotions in the home and ask those parents to share resources they use.
In the future the Dove Foundation will give seals of approval to books, including parenting books, so watch for that to start (dove.org).
Encourage Integrating Faith into Daily Life
Encourage people to bring in faith with activities, discussions, problems, and celebrations. When a major hurricane in Florida caused major damage to our home, we opened to Nehemiah and studied that as we rebuilt. We also read and joked a bit about our new view of the men who put a hole in the roof to lower a man down to see Jesus. We wondered who repaired that hole. It shows the relevance of scripture to children.
- When a little girl and her parent mentions a team sport validate it and ask if they’ve read 1 Corinthians 9:23-27 about athletic discipline in the Bible.
- When a family mentions a girl’s birthday, ask if they include blessing their child for the coming year.
- When a girl sports a cast or mentions an illness, offer to pray and ask if they have read James chapter five together or the account of Jairus’ daughter.
- When a disaster strikes a family, gently remind them that a study of Nehemiah might help them as they rebuild.
- Have a good deed bulletin board with flowers and centers to write in. Encourage parents to write a name and deed their little girl did and add it to the board. Stand near the board and praise the girls for their deeds that reflect a heart of goodness.
Encourage Illustrating Faith with Fun
Check out the new release Raising A Young Modern Day Princess: Growing the Fruit of the Spirit in Your Little Girls. It includes 100+ activities for parents to develop the fruit. Here are some from the book to try:
- Pass out tea bags to dads with young daughters and encourage them to have a tea party and show their daughter how a gentleman behaves. It helps develop peace as daughters feel accepted and learn respect from their daddy role model.
- Bend down to a girl’s eye level to chat. It shows you listen well and models patience.
- Compliment little girls on the colors they combined to wear and fashion sense to inspire creativity and joy.
- Pass out red circle stickers or little red beads to remind girls and their parents to read Proverbs 31 and let you know how they are growing to be a proverbs 31 lady.\
- Ask parents what their daughter did to help someone that week and hnk a little horn of encouragement for their display of goodness.
- Pass out seeds and ask parents what they are planting in their little girl’s heart to grow the Fruit of the Spirit.
- Hold a stuffed animal or puppet and ask little girls to show how they can pet it gently.
- Have a rock and a stuffed animal and ask little girls which one they’d rather hug. Remind them that kind words are soft hugs and unkind words are like rocks hitting someone.
Karen Whiting is an international speaker, former educational television host, and author of twenty-two books. Her newest book, from Focus on the Family, is Raising a Young Modern Day Princess: Growing the Fruit of the Spirit in Your Little Girl (co-authored with Doreen Hanna).