Why faith is important for kids
What gives your children something to lean on? Something to help them socialize? Something to help them have a moral compass?
A faith background can cover all these bases and more, regardless of the type of faith. It gives children a sense of purpose, of a story bigger than their own, and can help them navigate our tumultuous world, some say.
Elizabeth Maxon is a faith-based author and speaker, as well as mother, who said that having a faith upbringing of any kind supports three main ideas. First, it gives children a sense of connectedness with others outside their family. Second, it can be a guiding force and give children a moral compass. And lastly, it gives them something to hope for after this life is done.
“We’re created to connect with one another, and families who prioritize faith experience a connectedness in the world,” Maxon said.
Children who grow up going to religious services with their family are likely to adopt friends from that faith background. This allows parents to provide their children with friends who are being raised with the same set of morals.
In a recent Pew Research study, faithful people are on the whole happier and more involved in their communities than those unaffiliated with any type of religion. The researched showed that more than one-third of Americans who are actively religious described themselves as very happy, while a significantly smaller percentage of non-religious peoples claimed to be so.
According to this study, “Prior research suggests that one factor may be particularly important: The social connections that come with regular participation in group events, such as weekly worship services, Bible study groups, Sabbath dinners and Ramadan iftars.”
Sarah Bradley Wells is a 12-year-old who has grown up in a faith-based home. She said one of the things she enjoys is being about to connect with others her age.
“I don’t just see them on Sundays, but also at school, and it brings us together, knowing we have the same values,” Wells said.
Maxon agrees, saying that every faith has a core set of values and beliefs that will be imparted to the youth who are brought up in that environment. She noted that instilling a moral compass in our current society is an uphill battle and children having peers with their compasses pointing the same way can make it easier.
Teaching children that the things of this world are not always the wisest to invest in can be hard for parents. What children value changes as they grow, and religion and faith teach children to value the unseen more than tangible items.
“We want to teach our kids that invisible things have value. Things like love, grace, and hope, and faith can do that,” Maxon said.
The Pew study also noted that virtues promoted by religious belief may help improve happiness and possibly even physical health. These virtues included compassion, forgiveness, and empathy.
The hope of an afterlife is also an important aspect of raising children to have faith. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all teach that there is an afterlife in Heaven for believers where there is no more pain or suffering. Other religions also teach about life after death.
This is an important concept for children to grasp as they will grapple at some point with the death of loved ones, and being taught that the loved one is in a better place can give children peace and closure. According to Maxon, it brings comfort and allows children to hope for the beauty of a heavenly realm.
Wells said that growing up in a family with faith gives her something to lean on when she feels down and a way to connect with something higher than herself.
Regardless of what faith your family practices, most follow a similar set of ideals, morals, and sense of community, and those are wonderful things for a child to encounter while growing up.