A recent survey has found that mothers are the most influential character in their children’s Christian faith. According to a new Barna study – which examines the roles that mothers and fathers play in their children’s development – 68% of American Christians said they were more impacted by their mother’s faith. Only 48% said their fathers were influential, followed by 37% who gave credit to their grandparents.
The research also reveals that Christian teens are more likely to pray or discuss matters concerning their faith with their mother rather than their father. This can be attributed to how churches empower motherhood through the importance they give to mothers in general; which reflects how mothers pass on their faith to their children. The study suggests churches should play a more important role in the life of fathers, as so few fathers pass their faith on to their children. The study went on to reveal that Christian teens are more likely to state that their mothers encourage them to go to church, talk to them about God’s forgiveness and teach them about the Bible. They are also more likely to go to their mother for advice, encouragement and sympathy rather than their father. Fathers only emerge when teens need money, logistical help or when they want to play sports.
Roxanne Stone, who works for Barna, said during the research that they saw ‘over and over again we see the outsized impact that mothers have, both on their children’s spiritual formation as well as their character development.’ She also said, ‘unfortunately, the same really did not hold true for fathers in this study. It became apparent as we explored the research that practising Christians just don’t really seem to share a lot of quality time with their fathers, compared to other immediate and even sometimes extended household ties.’
Whatever the reason for this outcome, every parent should be aware of how they are role models for their children. Any paediatrician will tell you how small children are sponges who absorb everything you say or do. As they grow up, they will follow the footsteps of those who influenced them most, whether it was their parents, friends, celebrities or someone else. If a relationship with God is the most precious thing you have, then it is only natural that you would want to pass it on.
If you want to learn how to be a better role model for your children, don’t miss the School for Mothers or the IntelliMen meetings at the UCKG HelpCentre. Call our helpline (020 7686 6000) for details of the next meeting.