Question from a reader:
My wife and I have a daughter in her early teens. My greatest fear is that myself and my wife will be saved but my daughter will not.
We’ve been out of church basically since March 2020, except for live streaming on Sunday mornings, which we all watch. My wife has a health condition, and I don’t want to take any chances being around a group of people, but I feel like my daughter’s faith has slipped a small bit in the past year. She prays to Jesus every night and says that she believes in him as her God. She’s basically just interested in cheerleading, her boyfriend, and her small group of friends.
I am just nervous, wondering if I need to make sure she is born again, reciting the sinners prayer or something similar, but is that necessary if you believe? Or should I just trust in what Paul said and Romans 10:9. I know she believes that Jesus is God and God raised Him from the dead for our sins. Am I just worrying too much? I want us to be an unbroken family in Heaven.
Answer from Stephanie Anderson, EPM staff:
I’m a parent to girls as well, but my eldest is 12 so I am a little behind you yet! But as I read your message, I could understand your concerns. It is both beautiful and sobering to realize our children are getting older and will need to own their faith themselves as they grow.
All that to say, I don’t have any particularly profound advice to give or feel like I have this figured out! But I can point you to a few resources that might be helpful and then share a couple of thoughts as well.
It’s wonderful your daughter has professed faith. I don’t think you need to stress about making sure she prays the sinner’s prayer again or pressure her to do so, since knowing Jesus is a heart issue and not a matter of saying particular words. This article has some questions to talk through with your children about salvation and making sure they understand the gospel. One thing I remember reading years ago is that some people have a specific moment when they professed faith and chose Jesus, but for others, especially for kids raised in Christian homes, it’s a process that takes place over a length of time rather than being a certain point in time that they can look back and remember “that’s when I became a Christian.”
Though it’s geared towards parents with older prodigal children, I appreciated the things Kevin DeYoung had to say in this article. He says:
“…you cannot save your child. If your good works aren’t going to save you, what makes you think that your good works were going to save your child? It isn’t that what we do isn’t important to their salvation—God commands us to train them up and teach them His word in order that they might hear His voice and respond. Our job is to create the necessary conditions for the faith to ignite. Your job has been to teach the faith and to show them your own faith. Ask yourself, do your children know the gospel? Do your children know where your hope is? Do your children know from your life that God’s mercy has changed you? If the answer is no, now is the time to get to work on that.”
Here is another article with some helpful thoughts.
And here are some articles from Randy on parenting that you can check out:
And here’s an article on helping your kids own their faith.
A couple of thoughts I had after reading your message:
- Even though we might want the trajectory of our children’s faith to look a certain way, we have to remember they are on a journey, just like we are. They will go through lean spiritual times as well as times of great growth. This is normal. (And a reminder I need too!)
- It’s worth remembering that this last year has been a tough one for many kids. Many of the things they enjoyed and counted on (activities, school, youth group, gathering with friends) have been cancelled, postponed, or look different than normal. Some kids are struggling with depression and anxiety over all that’s happening in the world. That can help remind us to give our children grace in this challenging season that’s been hard for all of us in various ways.
- Does your church have an active youth group? Is there a way that your daughter could safely participate in some way or a leader she could get connected with? I understand your concerns about your wife, and that is a challenging situation. It will be more important than ever to demonstrate to your daughter that the local church community is important to your family and being an active part of it isn’t optional. May God give you wisdom to demonstrate that, even though it might look differently than normal.
- Finally, God wants us to operate out of faith, not fear. Your concerns about your daughter are understandable but we’re told that “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). You can trust your daughter and her eternal future to Jesus, knowing He loves her more than even you and your wife ever possibly could. All that you can do —what’s in your control—is to seek to be a faithful parent who points your daughter to Jesus.
God bless you and your family!