Who Should Teach Children About God?
“A pupil is not above his teacher, but everyone that is perfectly instructed will be like his teacher.”—LUKE 6:40.
SOME parents feel unqualified to teach their children about God. They may think that they do not have enough education or do not know enough about religion to be good teachers. As a result, they may be inclined to leave this vital task to a relative or to a religious leader.
Who, though, is really in the best position to teach children religious truths and moral principles? Consider what the Bible says on this subject, and compare those statements with what researchers have discovered.
What Is a Father’s Role?
What the Bible teaches: “Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”—Ephesians 6:4, “Holman Christian Standard Bible.”
What researchers have discovered: How do fathers benefit if they develop strong religious convictions? The article Fathers’ Religious Involvement and Early Childhood Behavior, published in 2009, stated: “Involvement in a religious community may help men become better fathers. Religion provides individuals with social support and control as well as a set of teachings and guidelines for how to live one’s life.”
The Bible places great emphasis on the importance of a father’s role in raising and training children. (Proverbs 4:1; Colossians 3:21; Hebrews 12:9) But is that counsel relevant today? In 2009 the University of Florida published an article that discussed the impact that fathers had on their children. The researchers found that children with fathers who were actively involved in their upbringing were more likely to be empathetic and to have a better sense of self-worth. Boys were less likely to misbehave, and girls were more likely to have better mental health. Certainly, the Bible’s advice is still relevant.
How Important Is a Mother’s Role?
What the Bible teaches: “Do not forsake the law of your mother.”—Proverbs 1:8.
What researchers have discovered: In 2006 the Handbook of Child Psychology stated: “On average, mothers spend between 65% and 80% more time than fathers do in direct one-to-one interaction with their young children, and such ratios hold in many different lands.” With that amount of contact, a mother’s speech, actions, and attitudes have a profound effect on a child’s development.
When a mother and father work together to teach their children the truth about God, they give them at least two precious gifts. First, the children gain the opportunity to form a friendship with their heavenly Father, a friendship that can benefit them throughout life. Second, the children learn by example how a husband and wife should cooperate to reach important goals. (Colossians 3:18-20) While others may be able to assist a father and mother, it is the parents who have the responsibility to teach their children about God and about how God wants a family to function.
How, though, should parents teach their children? What methods are likely to work best?