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Posted on Wed, Nov 10, 2010 : noon

Family Devotions: Who is developing your child's spiritual character?

By St. Luke Lutheran Church


We drop our children off for piano and dance lessons, but who is developing their spiritual character? | Microsoft clip art

We drop our children off for piano and dance lessons, we drop them off for karate and swim lessons, but who is developing their spiritual character? We, as parents, need to take the time and use every opportunity to shape our children into Godly people.

Family devotions may seem overwhelming, but they are vital and can be integrated into your busy lifestyle. Sometimes we may need to be a little creative, but it’s worth it.

Set a Goal
If you do not already have family devotions, but would like to start, make a goal that you will be able to reach. Don’t set yourself up for failure or a guilt trip. Start with one or two times a week and make it a fun family time.

Choose a time that works for everyone, after dinner, before bed, on Saturday morning, whatever fits your family. Milton Bradley advertised family game night; you can piggy back off of that and also do family devotions. You can always add more days or change when you meet to make adjustments in your schedule. Your children look to your for guidance, so make sure that what you set out to do, you are able to fulfill.

Remember, your attitude can give you uncommonly positive perspective. Soldiers saw Goliath and thought; he’s so big we can never kill him. David thought, he is so big, I can’t miss him!

Instill Habits Early
It is important to be a role model and instill a habit for God’s word at an early age. Children are receptive to learning even at a young age. Think of ways that toddlers learn; by having you read to them, singing to soothe them, the TV shows they watch, and other life experiences. It makes sense that when you have these life experiences with your child that God is a part of all of it. There are teachable moments daily when children fight over toys or are uncooperative, or when they do something nice for a friend. Always be on the look out for these opportunities to talk about God.

Children learn best at an early age and research shows that their faith development is formed by the early age of 13. Your child will be influenced by media, books, school and advertisements — be sure that you have given your child the strong foundation he needs. Don’t expect your church or religious organization to fully develop your child’s faith perspective. They can walk beside you and support you, but you should be the main resource for your child.

Older children will be watching you to see if you “walk your talk.” Spend time together as a family doing service in your community or church. It doesn’t have to be every week or month, but hook up with an organization and work on something together as a family. Can you serve a meal to a sick neighbor or shovel their snow? In my home, when I bake something, the kids always ask, “Is this for us or someone else?” I am hopeful that my service to others will rub off on them also.


Janette Haak

Janette Haak is the Sheepfold Coordinator at St. Luke-Ann Arbor and holds a master's degree in education with a ZA endorsement. She home schooled her children for 12 years and is now a remedial reading tutor.



Thu, Nov 11, 2010 : 8:14 p.m.

I honestly have a hard time understanding what "spiritual character" means? Anyone?


Thu, Nov 11, 2010 : 9:20 a.m.

Great article! In response to debling, I think you make some good points, but there is a balance. An open mind for a child can easily become a sewer that the gunk from many 'points of view' is dumped down, and we expect somehow the child to sort it all out. I wouldn't wish that on my enemy. Let's make sure that parents really take their responsibility to raise their children. I've seen many examples of kids who are homeschooled that are great adults, and many examples of kids who go to public schools that are great adults. Likewise, many narrow minded people can come from either environment.


Thu, Nov 11, 2010 : 4:56 a.m.

As a child, my parents raised me just as you suggest they should, but without all the faith stuff. I turned out to be a happy well adjusted member of society whose morals come from within, and I'm happy to know the truth, to be set free by science.


Wed, Nov 10, 2010 : 9:06 p.m.

I agree 100% with debling. I *am* the most influential person in my child's life (as well as her father, my husband) but we don't feel the need to brainwash her. We prefer that she remains open minded regarding such important decisions and only decide what to believe, if anything, when she is mature enough and well informed enough to do so. She knows that we are atheists but has been told that she is not because she's simply not old enough to know what she believes. Children who are not old enough to make informed decisions on their own will believe whatever their parents tell them to believe. A responsible parent has no more right to tell their child to believe in god than to tell them not to. I try not to do anything my child will resent me for later in her life. Good luck to you Ms. Haak.


Wed, Nov 10, 2010 : 5:30 p.m.

What is spiritual character?


Wed, Nov 10, 2010 : 4:10 p.m.

On the other hand, I was raised in a fundamental church and was indoctrinated with religion's rules for "walking with the Lord" and now, I'm not so trustful or keen of churches as religious establishments. Non-denominational churches seem to be more focus on supporting one's spirituality. The others - it seems are all about THEIR way to god. I'll take advise from a someone who behaves in a truly Christian manner, who walks the walk and doesn't attend an organized church over a one who does, any day of the week.

Janette Haak

Wed, Nov 10, 2010 : 3:12 p.m.

debling Thank you for your interest in the article. I agree with you that children can and should decide for themselves if walking with Jesus is something they want to do. However, they are being influenced from all sorts of media, TV, books, school, advertisements, songs and friends. I can't understand why you think that the parent should not be the most influential person in their life. When I was growing up, I had some friends who's parents "let their kids decide about their faith." These friends now have no faith whatsoever, I don't see that as being supportive or "finding the truth for themselves." As for home schooling,I don't see how it has anything to do with the article. However, I will comment that while home schooling, we did study other religions, as well as evolution and creation. (public schools don't do that!) My children have decided on their own to walk with the Lord. There is a saying that God does NOT have grandchildren. My children don't have a relationship with God thru me. My children are in school now and we have set a firm foundation in their faith. They know the truth and the truth has set them free.


Wed, Nov 10, 2010 : 2:28 p.m.

No doubt an important part of being a parent is to provide guidance, share values and help your child grow into a responsible and successful adult. For many families, spirituality can be part of this. However, letting your children grow and decide for themselves what they wish to believe in is essential to their development. The early years should not be exploited as a means to indoctrinate a captive audience to ones own beliefs. Rather, they should be used to open the childs mind to possibilies and let them find the truth themselves. I am more troubled by the fact that Ms. Haak home schooled her children for 12 years. In my experience, people who home school are mostly afraid that their children will be exposed to new ideas that they don't agree with. This is not helping their children grow.


Wed, Nov 10, 2010 : 9:18 a.m.

Here! Here!