Talk to your children
For Younger Children
1. Share experiences. Share how important religion is to you and how it has positively affected your life. Talk about how it has changed your priorities and inspired you to improve yourself.
2. Be present. Be involved with their religious education and let your children ask questions about your religion. Help them understand where they are at, by listening to their concerns. Teach lessons with stories, which are powerful tools that invite a child’s imagination and creativity.
3. Be active. Regularly attend church and other activities. Being involved will increase your social support and others will help reinforce the values you are trying to teach your child.
4. Lead by example. Be an example by living your religion as best you can while practicing patience for yourself and your children.
For Older Children
1. Be active. Encourage regular attendance and involvement in church activities. Peers are an important part of their lives and friends who share their values will help them resist negative influences.
2. Recognize evolving critical thinking skills. Teens are now beginning to see that even parents are flawed. Adolescents also have ideals that can be unrealistic, putting them at risk for rejecting beliefs and values they once treasured. Take time to talk about issues they face and help them make connections with perspectives and consequences they have not thought about, something their developing brains still need help with.
3. Share your wisdom. Older teens and young adults will begin making choices for themselves and finding their identity. Continue to share the positive effects your religion has had on your life. Have the important conversations about their futures and what priorities and choices will help them find lasting happiness. They still need and want your help guiding them through these important decisions, even if they seem to resist it. They need both guidance and the ability to act for themselves.
4. Watch for negative influences. Be aware of the friends and influences in your child’s life that would mislead them and create doubt about the choice to be devout.
Talk to family members and friends
Use some of the questions from the discussion group to guide your conversation. Or, choose some additional questions from this list:
Impact on Community
Have you seen religion have an impact on your community? What have been the positive and negative aspects? (This will give you the opportunity to share some of the benefits you’ve learned.)
Religion and the Family
What impact does religion have on a family? Is this beneficial to the individuals in a family? (mother, father, children, etc.). What are the consequences of the absence of religion?
What values does your religion teach? How is this different from or similar to the larger community? Are there other ways to gain these values?
Religion and Youth
How do you encourage and teach youth to engage in religious practice? How does this affect their identity?
Religion: Useful or Not?
“Religion is less useful for our well-being when we live in a country where people have freedom, economic security, trust in their government, and a social safety net.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why?
Advantages or Disadvantages of Religious Influence
Are there advantages of living in a community that is known to be heavily religious? Are there disadvantages of living in a community that is known to be heavily religious?
Why would occasional participation in religious activity have less of a positive impact than worshiping consistently? What role does conviction play in the positive effects of religious practice?
How does/might your religiosity impact non-religious family members? How can you foster understanding without undermining your own values?
Engage the Broader Community
Know the Research
Become acquainted with research showing that religious practice serves the common good.
Promote Faith-based Services
Consider the evidence on the effectiveness of faith-based approaches to social problems. Share it with policy makers.
Be an Example
We cannot teach and expect others to value and practice religion if we do not. Show them the joy it can bring with your own light!
Be Involved in Your Church
Fellowship and serve in your church to help support the community of believers.
Be a Leader
Be bold in sharing your values. Realize, however, that overt expression of religious beliefs (quoting scripture, for example) can be off-putting. Learn the science that supports your values and religious beliefs and share this knowledge with policy makers and elected officials. Consider running for office yourself.
Impact of religion
Religion inspires couples to collaborate, better adjust to marriage, and find more benefits in marriage.
Emotional closeness between parents and their children is much more likely when a child is participating in religion.
When both spouses attend religious services often, they are 2.4 times less likely to end the marriage in divorce as those couples in which neither attends religious services.
Adolescents whose mothers attend religious services at least weekly display better health, greater problem-solving skills, and higher overall satisfaction with their lives, regardless of race, gender, income, or family structure.
Religion provides individuals, families, and communities with greater hope and a better sense of purpose in life.
Religious involvement is associated with less drug abuse and makes one less likely to develop long-term addiction problems.
Religions contribute a combined $1.2 trillion dollars to the U.S. economy and society every year, exceeding the revenue of the 10 largest tech companies. Religious organizations fund over 1.5 million social programs. (Faith by the Numbers).
Faith-based organizations control 8 percent of the Earth’s habitable land, as well as 5 percent of commercial forests and 10 percent of financial institutions. The potential aggregate impact of faith-based organizations on sustainable development is immense.
Social Media Resources
Help Spread the Word
The Art of Staying Calm
There’s an art to staying calm when facing disagreements and confrontations. Whether you’re engaging at your local school board meeting, speaking at a hearing at your state capitol, or having a conversation with a co-worker, it can be stressful. Take a deep breath, smile and remember – you don’t have to win; you just have to explain your position clearly and succinctly.
Speaking of breathing deeply, Navy seals could teach us a thing or two about how to stay calm in stressful situations. These highly-trained soldiers practice what they refer to as “four-square breathing.” It goes like this:
- Breathe in for four seconds.
- Hold air in your lungs for four seconds.
- Exhale for four seconds.
- Hold your breath, lungs emptied for four seconds.
The beauty of this technique it can be done inconspicuously, anytime, anywhere. Practice it, in advance, so it becomes more second nature; then find yourself ready to engage with the confidence and calm of a pro.
“Calmness is the cradle of power.” Josiah Gilbert Holland