As Orthodox Christian parents, our deepest hope for our children is that they will love God and embrace the Orthodox Christian faith with all of their hearts. But how can we make that become a reality? Can we make it happen? It must be the children who choose to live in such a way: we cannot make them do so, even though we love them; want what is best for them; and know that loving God and His Church in such a way IS what is best for them.
Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, in a homily on advice for parents, addressed this very concern. “If our children are to remain faithful to the path of salvation, then one important thing will be, ‘what did they see in their parents?'” He goes on to say, that it is “…not the way you TALK about your faith, but the way you LIVE it,” as he suggests practical applications such as having family prayer times that include Bible reading and praying together regularly as a family.
The V. Rev. George Morelli, Ph.D., in his article, “Orthodoxy Today Smart Parenting XXII: Witnessing Dedication, Loyalty, and Dependability,” cites studies that show how modeling affects children’s behavior. (In this article, he is referencing showing dedication, loyalty, and dependability in specific ways that enable children to learn how to show Christ’s love; but the concepts apply to modeling love of God and His Church, as well.) His article states that children learn both positive and negative behaviors by observing the adults in their family. Therefore, our modeling positive behaviors (in this case, loving God and His Church) will positively affect our children.
So, in short, what can we do to bring our children up to love and follow God and The Faith?
And invite our children to live it along with us.
May the Lord have mercy on us all.
To view Metropolitan Kallistos Ware’s homily, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4Q8sfqMuJg&feature=player_embedded.
To read Father George’s article, visit http://www.antiochian.org/content/orthodoxy-today-smart-parenting-xxii-witnessing-loyalty-dedication-and-dependability