As a new mother, I’ve been struggling to figure out a spiritual routine for my daughter and our family. We say prayers at bedtime and read some books that are Christ-focused, but sometimes I feel lost when I think about teaching her about Jesus as she continues to grow.
I’ve been involved with the Church for less than ten years. I wasn’t taught the faith at a young age. I know it is also hard for people who did grow up with Christian parents to pass on the faith. One of the things I have anticipated doing on my journey as a first-generation Christian parent is to seek advice and encouragement from people ahead of me in their parenthood journeys. So that’s what I did for this post. Below you’ll find encouragement and advice from five parents who are experienced in each age and stage of raising kids.
Baby: 0–12 months
From a mama of one in Ohio:
“Passing down faith to a child can begin as soon as a child is born. We taught our daughter how to pray when she was an infant and now she always prays with us. We also think it is so crucial to share Bible stories with babies so they can grow up in the faith. My husband and I have also taught our girl many songs that involve Christianity. Some kids learn the best through music. Recently, I have been taking her up for the children’s sermon at church so she can participate in church and learn more about Jesus. I truly believe that it is never too early to teach children about Jesus.”
Toddler: 1–3 years
From a mama of three in Michigan:
“What a blessing it is to be your little one’s go-to; their place of comfort and security; the shoulder to cry on and the arms to lean into for rest. This relationship is quite extraordinary for each of you. You have the privilege of having a front-row seat as you begin to learn how God has wired them. You could read all the parenting books under the sun, but there is something so beautiful about their God-given personality and partnering with God and the Holy Spirit in their journey. Pray that God will allow you to be the parent you need to be for each child. What a stretching process this is! Something that has been important to me with my very sweet, very strong-willed daughter is allowing her to occasionally enter into my prayers of repentance with God. It allows her to see mommy isn’t perfect, but mommy is relying on God, who is perfect in everything and our true teacher in how to love and forgives us. The little moments you spend with them every day are deposits into their faith journey. Nothing is too small. Give yourself grace but give your little human grace and compassion too. And you both can rely on God for strength when things are hard and get out those boogie shoes for a praise party. You’ve got this! And God’s got you both!”
Preschooler: 3–5 years
From a mom of three in Michigan:
“Preschoolers thrive in routine. In our house, there really isn’t much difference in the day-to-day when it comes to the multi-step bedtime routines, the daily frozen waffle, and the same show streamed over and over (and over). Since the time our oldest was little, my husband and I have been intentional about living a Deuteronomy 6 life—making Jesus a part of our daily rhythm. As we snuggle close for bedtime stories, we consistently end with a simple children’s Bible story and prayer. Kiddos can piece together a simple prayer: “Thank You, Jesus, for . . .” We patiently wait while the three-year-old lists each family member—twice. Even before they can read, we add simple actions to memorizing Scripture and hide God’s Word in our hearts (Psalm 23, verse by verse, is a great place to start). When Jesus is intentionally in the planned parts of our days, He shows up in the unexpected. With the persistent curiosity of preschoolers, our faith comes out in answering “why” questions. God’s grace is evident when we apologize to one another. As the rhythm of our days takes shape, Jesus is welcomed in little ways with our little children, and by the help of the Holy Spirit, we watch them learn to love Jesus with all their heart and soul and strength.”
Grade-schooler: 5–12 years
From a mother of two in Florida:
“Sundays are typically the hardest day of the week in our house! There’s often pushback and attitude. The only encouragement I can give would be to let other parents know that if they are struggling, they are not alone. We just have to cling to our faith and know that our efforts to teach our children are worth it.”
Teenager: 12–18 years
From a mama of four in Michigan:
“I believe it starts at birth. I think the best things we did were, one, set an example of Christian living by our involvement in church and Bible study attendance. We have always volunteered as youth leaders, and that has allowed us to have a better understanding of teenagers and what they are experiencing in today’s world, which has ultimately helped us with our own teenagers. Two, surrounding our family with other Christian families who openly talk about their faith (family Bible studies, church camping trips, Christian family camp.) And three, praying together and talking about our faith in the home.”
By leaning on those in your community who are farther along in their parenthood journeys, you learn to lean on the Bride of Christ. Your church community is full of people who want to support you and your children’s faith development with the help of the Holy Spirit. As a new mama, finding people who have taught the faith to their children and leaning on their advice and encouragement has been so edifying.
Prompt your entire family to engage with God’s Word as you walk through the Gospel of Mark in this month’s Everyday Faith Calendar.