Like most people, our family has traditions. We don’t have many, but we have a few. When someone has a birthday we put them in charge of the leftover cake. We might eat cake for a week, or just eat it all in one day, it depends on the birthday girl (or boy, as the case may be). When Dad leaves for work in the morning he comes to everyone’s bed and says goodbye, even though it is around 5am and everyone is asleep.
Everyone has traditions, whether they realize it or not. You may just see it as a habit, like showering before bed, but we all have them.
Some traditions just happen, like the birthday cake. Others have a genesis, like Dad’s goodbye hugs.
Our journey as Christians can be that way too. If we aren’t careful, we just get into the habit of doing Christian things. It’s what our parents did, so we do it too.
I have grown up in a Christian family. In fact, Christianity goes back many, many generations and my grandfather was a campus minister. I became a Christian when I was around 5. There really wasn’t that big of a change in my daily life. I didn’t cuss or drink or anything like that. I was 5. I was childish, but I wasn’t demented.
I know there are many people with a beginning like mine, I’ve talked with several. It can be easy to have a “grandchild” mentality. You become a Christian because that’s what your family does. I’m noticing a lot of “Grandchildren of God” mentality in the homeschool community. Teens grow up, and don’t really know what they believe. They don’t have an original thought in their heads. They just regurgitate what their parents say on any given subject or issue. They have a birthday cake mentality. This is what we do. Why would we do it any other way? They haven’t come up against any real opposition yet, and when they do, they are shaken, sometimes to the point where they disregard everything they were taught.
Sorry parents, but this is your fault. Unfortunately, you don’t realized what you are doing. You are just trying to teach your children their faith, but what you are actually doing is teaching them yours. I know you really do mean well, so may I make a suggestion? Give them the tools and the raw materials, then let them build their own ideas. Give them guidance and an atmosphere where they feel free to ask questions. If they come up with something that you feel is off, ask them questions about it. How did you come to that conclusion? Start up a conversation with your teen. Please, remember this little bit of wisdom I’ve learned from my parents. Once a child turns 12-13 you can no longer tell them what to do. You can offer tips, but, unless it will harm something or someone in your charge, they really can’t be stopped (barring extreme force and police involvement, and in most cases that really isn’t necessary). Let them own themselves.
A life built on personal beliefs is a much more rewarding one than a life built on someone else’s. That’s what you want for your children. You want them to have “goodbye hug” traditions, not “birthday cake” habits.