So, I’ve been around quite a few “Christian” pre-teen and teens lately, and have noticed that they are living double lives. There’s the Christian facade they put on at home, church, and Christian school… but it’s an entirely different story when they feel safe enough to truly be and express themselves. Too often institutional Christianity is a breeding ground for inauthenticity and a split self. Here are a few things to consider of you want to point your kids in the direction of freedom:
1. Let your kids know that what is often passed off as “Christian,” may not be anything close to the true meaning and significance of Jesus.
2. Let your kids know that it’s okay to question what they hear. Encourage and help them become critical, independent, and free thinkers.
3. Let your kids know that being “spiritually mature” is not necessarily keeping the rules, but could just as easily be breaking them.
4. Let your kids know that they can have confidence in what they most deeply feel and know is true inside. Many kids hear a theology in church that violates the spirit of truth inside them.
5. Create a safe space for your kids to be authentic and real. Stop judging them based on what they “should” be thinking, feeling, and experiencing, and get interested in what they actually are thinking, feeling, and experiencing.
6. Let them know that being “good” doesn’t automatically mean being obliging, docile, meek, inhibited, compliant, restrained, etc. but can also mean being passionate, original, subversive, nonconformist, and contrary.
7. Instill in your kids the non-negotiables such as love, compassion, and the inherent and equal divine worth of every human being. Talk to them about the religious falsehoods they will often hear along the way such as separation from God.
8. Let your kids know that all of life is spiritual, and that life and God are inseparable. Show them that they don’t need to go chasing God but to only open their eyes to see God in, through, and as all things that happen along the everyday paths of their life.
9. Help your kids understand the root cause of suffering, and the true source of peace, freedom, and well-being.
10. Don’t think you know everything. Be willing to see and understand the world through their eyes and experiences. They have much to teach you.
11. Stop judging what they are doing as “wrong.” Steve Jobs was a legend and hero for being immersed in technology, and yet we tell our kids that they are ruining their lives by being on their phone or computer too much.
12. The world is no longer what it was when you were growing up; it’s time to truly understand their world.
13. Tell your kids everyday that you love them unconditionally. Find them doing things that are right and good. Tell them they are beautiful inside and out… and be specific about what you see that is good and beautiful about them. Let them see the passion and rebel in you. Maybe break a few rules with them 🙂