The Deacon's Bench

When was the last time your kids saw you pray?

This columnist suggests it doesn’t happen often enough:

Years ago, well before I had children of my own, I was giving a talk to the parents’ Sunday school class at a church in downtown Memphis.

The topic was how to keep teens involved in church. I was a youth minister working with the high school youth group at our parish, so I guess that made me an expert. After what I’m sure was a less-than-life-altering presentation on my part, I began a conversation with a woman and her teenage daughter, who joined us after her class was dismissed.

While I remember nothing of what I said on that morning, I’ll never forget what the teenage girl told me.

We got into a conversation on prayer. The mother, who by all accounts was the proverbial pillar of the church, told me that she prayed every day. That was impressive, I thought, and important for her spiritual health.

What her daughter told me was even more impressive, though not nearly as happy. She admitted that she had never seen her mother pray, and that it would be “weird” to see her mother pray. Weird was the word she used.

In my years as a youth minister, teacher, even as a nurse, but especially as a parent, I’ve regularly encountered parents frustrated with their teen’s behavior. How to keep them on the straight and narrow? How to limit the influence of negative peers and social expectations? How to keep them coming to church?

My tendency is to encourage them to consider their own behavior and, from that, consider what message their behavior is sending their children. This seems like common sense, but it’s often lost in the challenges that accompany raising a child, especially a teenager.

We think they’ve stopped watching us, stopped paying any attention to us at all. In fact, it’s in the teen years that our kids are able to not only watch what we do, but to begin to make sense of it and to better discern the contradictions between what we say and what we do.

Check out the rest at the link. 

And pray about it.

Preferably, in front of your kids.

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