I grew up in the church. Like literally. We were at church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. We never missed a VBS, a youth group event, or a church fellowship.
I walked the aisle, prayed the sinner’s prayer at age 7, and was baptized shortly thereafter. I was a leader in our youth group and active in Christian groups at school.
You might think I had the perfect Christian life, but you’d be very wrong.
By the fall of my freshman year of college, I was a completely different person. I quickly stopped attending chapel and found other things to do. It’s not that I exactly denounced God, I just mostly had a life that He didn’t fit into.
When life called into question what I believed about God, my beliefs fell flat. In fact, much of what I did know was dismissed because the “new information” shared in my college classes seemed to contradict what I had learned. So I had to make a choice.
Lest you think I was the only teen who has ever walked this path, let me tell you it’s just not so.
A majority of twenty-somethings—61% of today’s young adults—
had been churched at one point during their teen years but they are now spiritually disengaged (i.e., not actively attending church, reading the Bible, or praying).
It’s a sobering statistic that sadly teaches parents a lot about how we can help our kids. I believe there is room for improvement in the way our churches support teens, in the way the Gospel is presented from the pulpit, and so much more. But I also believe the biggest area for improvement is at home.
The one MOST IMPORTANT thing we can do to help our kids stay grounded in faith is to TALK MORE.
Note that I didn’t say lecture. You and I both know that lectures waste our breath and hurt our relationship with our kids. When I say talk, I really mean talk. All the time, in all things, in every way. Just like the Bible tells us.
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9
Effective talking is two-sided. Everyone gives input. Everyone listens. Talking is meant for the exchanging of ideas and for strengthening of relationships. I think a lot of parents today realize how desperately we need to be talking to our kids, but we aren’t exactly sure what to talk about, much less how.
7 Things Christian Families Should Talk Openly About
So let’s take a few moments and look at 7 things every parent should discuss with their kids. These are HUGE topics and most are ones that I personally wish my mom had discussed with me.
Yes, most stem from the knowledge that I simply did not have the foundation in these areas that I needed and THAT IS THE REASON I couldn’t stand firm in college. Let’s commit to changing that for our kids. You in?
1. Talk about money with kids
Have you ever wondered why some people behave as if money grows on trees? Well, I think this behavior stems largely from actually NOT knowing the true value of money, how to earn it, and how to budget it wisely.
If you’re like me, while growing up you probably didn’t learn much about money. I think parents back then bought the lie that kids had no business knowing about the money. What a tragedy.
The sad reality is that most Americans today are up to their eyeballs in debt and live each day a slave to their money. It seems as soon as they got their own credit card, they lived like money actually grew on trees because they didn’t know any better.
The truth is, money is VERY MUCH our kids’ business. We should never hide the discussion of money from our kids.
- If dad loses his job, tell them.
- If you give generously to a cause, involve them.
- If you chose to buy one house over another, show them why that made sense financially.
- If you make a foolish money choice, confess it to them.
- Show them how to invest in the 401K.
- Talk to them about your emergency fund.
In our digital culture, this means we have to talk about money even more adamantly because the day-to-day transactions aren’t as obvious as they once were.
Oh, and yes, it means we have to tell them the hard things, like when we make mistakes and when things are tight. But don’t worry, this gives them the opportunity to grow closer to the Lord and have faith as they watch God provide.
If you need help talking about money, check out Smart Money, Smart Kids by Rachel Cruze and Dave Ramsey. This is a practical and simple book that will give you all the tools you need to help your kids learn about money.
2. Talk about sex with kids
Ya’ll, I have two teenage daughters, one teenage son, and another son almost there. Sex is the last topic on the planet I want to talk to them about. Just being real.
But here’s the thing we miss as parents: Sex is EXACTLY what the world wants to talk to our kids about. It permeates movies, media, advertisements, literally everything they see and do (even if they are homeschooled).
If we neglect talking about sex with our kids, they will form their ideas from what others share about it. Make no mistake, your kids are hearing about and talking about sex. And I don’t just mean teens.
Statistics show that, on average, kids are exposed to porn the FIRST time by the age of 8. That means many kids are even younger. If this doesn’t make you sick, I don’t know what will.
Your kids WILL NOT BE PROTECTED from this filth in today’s culture. There is nothing you can do to hide from it. You have to take it on. You have to be the voice of truth. You have to teach them to identify wrong messages and stand up for truth.
I’m very passionate about this topic because it was not discussed with me and the results were tragic. You can read my whole story below, as well as tips, facts, and awesome resources. Please, I beg you.
- The Talk: When is the Right Time to Discuss Biblical Sexuality With My Kids?
- Teaching Boys About Sexual Purity from a Biblical Perspective
- Christians, This Is Why You Need to Talk to Kids About Sex Early
3. Talk about politics with kids
I hate politics. This has never been more evident to me than over the last year or so. The more volatile things became with COVID, Trump, Black Lives Matter, and many other issues, the more I worked to avoid any discussion.
And it sort of worked. I mean, it’s easy to scroll past stuff on Facebook and turn off any hint of a news story. But it wasn’t easy to block out the real voices in my life.
We spend time with many teens both in our home and working for us here at Not Consumed. As issues unfolded, I noticed that the discussions rose to a new level.
I listened to these kids try to hash out with one another HUGE issues like when, where, or IF they should wear a mask. They would talk about who to vote for, what they thought about Black Lives Matter, and so many other issues.
I realized there is no escaping politics, but I also realized something deeper. Kids are looking for guidance on how to deal with political issues. Their friends ARE TALKING about it, even if you aren’t.
That ought to scare us to death as parents because teens don’t have the wisdom they need to battle these big issues on their own. They need us.
To make matters worse, when Christians avoid talking about politics at home, we raise a generation that thinks socialism/communism is a solution instead of a problem.
Here are just a few of the reasons we MUST tackle this topic:
- To obey God’s instruction and pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2) (We will need to know who they are if we are going to do that!)
- To show kids how to choose reliable sources of information
- To help kids be ready to give an answer for the hope in their hearts (1 Peter 3:15)
- To help kids stand strong for what they believe in
- To open their eyes to the needs of the world around them
- To show them opportunities to share God’s love
But most importantly, talk about politics with your kids because they are desperately trying to figure out what to think. They want to know what you think. They want to stand firm on the truth!
These are some of my favorite resources to help you get started talking about politics with your kids:
- WORLDteen is full of news stories and resources you can trust. There is also World Magazine for kids. You can subscribe to the magazine or the online information.
- Another option is to watch 10 minutes of news together on a regular basis. We love this conservative resource devoted to finding the facts. In ten minutes a day, your family has solid content to discuss and at the same time stay current.
4. Talk about media with kids
When I was in high school (ahem, over 20 years ago), I wrote a paper about the “deleterious effects of watching TV.” I wrote it in a public high school for a teacher who surely wasn’t a Christian. There were no Bible verses in the paper and nothing religious was even suggested.
The main points of my paper were focused on the negative effects TV has on our minds, from an exclusively scientific position. Twenty years later, I can honestly say that I still watch less than 2-3 hours of TV per MONTH. Yes, I said month. Sometimes we will watch a family movie, but other than that, I have zero interest.
That paper shook me. But don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not sharing this with you in an effort to convince you to stop watching TV. I shared it because it’s important to note the impact education can have on us.
That paper changed my lifelong position on TV watching and has impacted the way I use the internet as well. This is important to note because often as parents we think we can never win the war on technology. We think we will never be equipped to battle the excess of media that our kids consume.
In some ways, that is true. Maybe there will always be a screen somewhere within your child’s reach. I think we can safely concede to that possibility, which means instead of trying to keep it out, we need to be talking to our kids about its responsible use.
We need to educate our kids on the big WHY behind our limits and guidelines.
What to teach kids about media:
- Your eyes are the windows to your soul. Everything you put before your eyes, you put into your heart/mind (Matthew 6:22-23).
- Protecting your heart should be your top priority. This includes guarding your eyes and ears, keeping them from filth (Proverbs 4:20-27).
- Your digital footprint (the things you do online) will be with you forever, impacting your ability to get a job, make friends, and have an effective ministry.
- Accountability for your time with media (all screens–including TV) should be as public as possible.
- Right priorities in your life will put Jesus first, responsibilities second, and entertainment last. When we get those out of order, everything is messed up (Matthew 6:33).
But remember, talking to kids about media shouldn’t be a conversation about rules and guidelines. It should be a conversation about protecting your heart and soul. Purity isn’t something you only need to worry about when your teens start dating. Purity is keeping the filth of the world away from your heart by protecting your eyes and ears.
Great resources to help you talk to kids about media and technology:
- Tech-wise Family is a small book and an easy read on the topic of managing screentime as a family and WHY it matters.
- We can’t deny its effects. 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You is a must-read.
- Knowing the truth is half the battle: The Dark Side of the Internet.
- Some of the key findings from my paper were quoted from a book called Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman. It’s a tough read, especially if you consume a lot of media.
5. Talk about church with kids
We started this article talking about the Barna study and how teens were leaving churches. This has been a burden on my heart for many years. I recently picked up another book on the topic to read these words:
“Here’s another alarming statistic: only 20 percent of college students who leave the faith planned to do so during high school. The remaining 80 percent intended to stick with their faith but didn’t.” Kara E. Powell, Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids
This was my story. I had no intentions of writing God off. It just sort of happened. In this book, Kara and her partner interviewed countless teens to learn what might have been different for those who stayed in church compared with those who didn’t.
One particular finding shocked me. It seems that many kids walked away from the faith simply because they didn’t know how to choose a church and get plugged in once they went off to college. How crazy is that?
But it makes good sense. If you’ve ever had to change churches you know it’s HARD to know what to look for. That’s why this is a critical conversation to have with your kids.
I recently had the opportunity to talk about this with my kids when many of our friends left our church because of the COVID restrictions. It was NOT a conversation I wanted to have, but it was so good for all of us to think through what was most important.
I’ve created a resource to help you talk through some of the most pressing issues kids face today. Here is a sample page of the section on choosing a church.
You might find that some of the questions are uncomfortable or even against what you’d believe. That’s the idea! Let the questions stir up your thoughts and create a conversation where lots of different ideas are heard. Then record what you believe as a family.
6. Talk about social injustice with kids
Social injustice is a hot topic in our culture right now and just the mention of it brings all kinds of feelings. I would encourage you to approach it just as the Lord would.
Listen. Learn. Don’t back down on what’s right.
We struggle with topics like this because we struggle to both stand firm in our beliefs and have compassion for others. I promise it’s possible to do that. It’s also the example Jesus left us.
People have the right to feel however they feel about something. It’s important we recognize that. We don’t control them and that’s a good thing. It’s also important that we seek to understand WHY people feel a certain way.
We can teach kids to fight against social injustice without compromising their faith. Seeking to understand how someone feels makes you compassionate, not hypocritical. It makes you loving, not compromising. This is what fighting social injustice SHOULD be all about.
We should teach our kids to:
- Listen to those who feel unheard
- Fight for the rights of the unborn
- Fight for the sanctity of marriage
- Support those who are oppressed
- Rescue those who are abused
- Seek justice for those who can’t do it for themselves
- Love others without conditions
My mom did this so well. We lived near a couple who chose a homosexual lifestyle. She loved them dearly, had them over to our house, and talked to us openly about what the Bible had to say about this topic. She would tell us kids, “I believe that homosexuality is a sin, but I also believe that God called me to love our neighbors.”
I’m thankful for her example. She didn’t compromise her beliefs. She didn’t shun those she disagreed with either. She simply loved and stood firm on the Gospel. I believe we can truly do this as Christians. None of us is without sin, so all of us ought to be full of compassion for everyone God puts in our paths.
Here are some of the best resources on this topic:
- One Blood for Kids: What the Bible Says About Race by Ken Ham
- Unplanned is the best movie I’ve ever taken my teenage girls to see. It’s graphic and it’s serious talking material. BUT YOU MUST talk openly about this.
- The Sanctity of Life bundle from AIG will help you dig deeper, from a scientific approach, covering abortion, stem-cell harvesting, euthanasia, and much more.
- Transgender Transition is a great resource, as well as this little pamphlet on gay marriage.
7. Talk about evolution with kids
One of the biggest mistakes we make as parents is to talk to our kids only about what is true, instead of also pointing out that which is false. This is a HUGE danger for homeschoolers who choose their curriculum and filter out events or ideas they feel are wrong.
This has happened to far too many Christian families who failed to teach their kids about evolution. When the child goes off to college, suddenly new ideas are presented and the student grabs onto them.
My friend, they don’t fall back on years of wisdom and trust in us as parents…at least not in the early adult years anyway. Instead, they believe we are foolish, simple, uneducated, and that the professors have enlightened them!
There are many examples of this, but I think evolution is the biggest. For decades, Christian parents have been afraid to tackle the topic of evolution. Maybe it’s in part because our scientific background isn’t strong enough to defend the Bible, so we shy away.
Well, good news: The Bible is strong enough to defend itself! Give your kids the right resources and teach them the truth. Show them the principles of evolution and then show them how the Bible (and science) refute that!
- Debunking Evolution is a simple 6-lesson DVD and study guide that will help you lay the right foundation in junior high.
- For younger kids, my family has loved this Answers for Kids set.
- The Genesis Impact will help you debunk evolutionary theories, specifically those found in museums around you.
- Replacing Darwin is a great option for deeper study yourself or with older kids.
- Unearthing the Bible is a super cool book you can read as a family in short segments. It shows archeological finds that prove the Bible’s accuracy.
Also, I’d highly recommend a visit to the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum. You can read things in books, but until you see some of it before your eyes, you just don’t understand it quite the same way. Your kids will learn SO MUCH at both of these places.
This post is chock-full of ideas and resources, but I realize that sometimes it doesn’t feel like enough. I would highly encourage you to be intentional about discussing these things as a family. That’s why I wrote Foundations of Faith.
In the study, you’ll lay a foundation for your faith, straight from the Bible, reviewing topics like salvation, discernment, and godly living. Next up, you’ll dig in and discuss 10 crucial topics as a family.
I’ll give you a list of Bible verses, questions to ponder, and resources for further study. YOU SUPPLY the statement of faith as you record your thoughts and ideas together as a family. Get started today!
Through practical tools & Bible-based resources, Kim Sorgius is dedicated to helping your family GROW in faith so you can be Not Consumed by life’s struggles. Author of popular kid’s devotional Bible studies and practical homeschooling tools, Kim has a master’s degree in education and curriculum design coupled with over 2 decades of experience working with kids and teens. Above all, her most treasured job is mother and homeschool teacher of four amazing kiddos.