The Role of Parents in Kids’ Faith

Kara Powell | Aug 27, 2009

Photo by Jenna Christina

As I’'m reading Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults, the new book by Dr. Christian Smith and his National Study of Youth and Religion team, I am once again struck by how important parents are in teenagers’ faith. Here’s a quote from Christian on page 284 that is so powerful I’ll just let it stand on its own for my blog post today:

Most adolescents in fact still very badly want the loving input and engagement of their parents—more, in fact, than most parents ever realize. They simply want that input and engagement on renegotiated grounds that take seriously their growing maturity and desired independence. All too often, however, parents misinterpret their teenager’s signals about renegotiated relationships as simple demands to be left alone and, for whatever reasons, they readily comply. So just at a time when teenagers most need engaged parents to help them work out a whole series of big questions about what they believe, think, value, feel, are committed to, and want to be and become, in many cases, their parents are withdrawing from them.

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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