Relationship with God

If there is one area where the danger of emphasizing the intellect without feeling or the feelings without intellect has been repeated generation after generation, this is it. And the twin dangers of worrying too much and too little about it.

But the goal here is a relationship, with a real, living Person, and therefore we can realize how small our own role is. If we believe that the Person Himself desires a relationship with our children far more than we could desire it, and if we believe that our children were made for such a relationship, there is no need to be heavy-handed or panicky about it. We can approach it as simply and as naturally as we would make sure they had a relationship with distant but doting grandparents. Our role is to make the introductions, to provide opportunities to communicate, and then step out of the way. We cannot enter into that relationship for them, and so we will have to step back at some point and not pry, knowing we can trust the other Party in the transaction.

The opposite danger would be to leave the relationship entirely up to the child–but this, too, is unfair to the child, like refusing to let him meet good grandparents until he is grown up and can make up his own mind about them. Of course he should have the chance to make the acquaintance of the Center of the universe. It can be done in a way that respects his own personhood and lets him make up his own mind. To raise a child entirely without any religious teaching is like raising him without music or pictures or stories; it is eliminating a huge part of what it means to be human.

One of the most helpful pieces of advice, which I believe was somewhere in Charlotte Mason’s writings, is to concern ourselves only with passing on those ideas that are most true to us. Simply passing on the whole body of teachings of our denomination or particular group as a monolith begs for hypocrisy or shallow thought. Whenever our children get the idea that "you must believe this, or else," they are not in a relationship at all. This is a comfort for parents who struggle with doubts–we can at least pass on the ideas we are sure of, or that we most hope to be true. Better for them to be sure it is beautiful and ought to be true, than to "believe" out of fear and threatening.

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