Raising children in the Christian faith

At a baptism in the Danish Lutheran Church of Vancouver, B.C., the pastor tells you, the parents, to bring your child up in the Christian faith, in order that he may remain in Christ, even as he now through baptism has been grafted into Him. As a church we do not want to leave it at that. We would like to help. We have here put together a list of practical suggestions for you to choose from. If you have more suggestions or if we can assist you in some way, please fell free to contact the or the Sunday School.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Amen

Talk to God with your child. Your child will probably not appreciate long lectures about God, but you can pray to God together. Also children too young to understand what you are saying will enjoy the time you spend together. When you pray you may want to hold hands, or you can put your hand on your child’s head in a blessing, or fold hands or kneel. You can say the Lord’s Prayer together or the Danish translation, Fadervor, or you may say a prayer of this form:

Dear God, bless mummy and daddy, bless farmor and uncle David, bless my friends Owen and Adam, and keep them safe. Bless me too, and help me to not tease my brother as I did today. Amen!

If you say a prayer as part of a bed time ritual, your child will probably prefer that you say the same prayer—or almost—every night. Children are “good at” praying: they say what comes naturally without thinking too much.

Vor Fader, du som er i himlene! Helliget blive dit navn, komme dit rige, ske din vilje som i himlen således også på jorden;
giv os i dag vort daglige brød,
og forlad os vor skyld, som også vi forlader vore skyldnere,
og led os ikke ind i fristelse, men fri os fra det onde.
For dit er Riget og magten og æren i evighed!
Amen!

Sing for your child. Singing is a nice supplement or alternative to praying with small children. You can try Jesus loves me! This I know or All things bright and beautiful, or you can take the opportunity to pass on some Danish heritage by singing hymns like Op, al den ting, som God har gjort or Lille Guds barn, hvad skader dig or I østen stiger solen op.

Share the stories of the Bible with your child: Noah’s Ark, Moses, David and Goliath, the good Samaritan, the prodigal son…. Buy a children’s Bible. You will find many on the market; compare with other children’s books that your child likes, then choose a children’s Bible that seems appropriate for your child’s age.

Celebrate the anniversary of your child’s baptism. You will find the date on your child’s baptismal certificate. Take out the photo album and the embroidered napkin that was used to dry your child’s head (or any other memorabilia, if your child was baptised in another church). Talk with your child about what happened on the day of his baptism. (The letters on the napkin, INRI, are short for Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudæorum, or Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.)

Bring your child to church. While church is still a new place, your child will likely want to sit with you in the Sanctuary. Bring some soft shoes and quiet toys like teddy bears, rag dolls, and picture books. Your child may run around exploring the room and the people there; that is ok, that was why you brought the soft shoes…. If you become too self-conscious, try if the toys in the southwest corner of the Sanctuary can distract your child. You will find the washrooms in the south end of the Narthex just outside the Sanctuary.

Enrol your child in Sunday School. Our Sunday School teaches children from age three and up; if you need babysitting for a toddler, please let us know. After the service, take time to talk to the Sunday School teacher(s). We need to know about food allergies and such, we would like to know “our” parents, and once we do we may lean on you to volunteer for something or other.

Children sometimes ask tough questions. If your child asks questions like who is God, do not be afraid to admit that you do not have a simple answer, maybe no answer at all. Instead talk with your child about what you believe and what your child believes. If your child asks questions like are you going to die, be honest. Children are more ready than many adults to believe that God takes good care of people both before and after they die. If your child asks questions like do you really believe in the virgin birth, again take it as an opportunity to talk about your beliefs and what is important to you.

Praying for yourself as a parent can also help. Maybe like this:

Lord, I’m tired of all the work that is always waiting. I’m tired of trying to raise my child. I find myself being angry, shouting, hitting. I forget that my child is a gift from You. Lord, help me be a good parent. Grant me patience. Teach me to say sorry, to forgive, and begin over again. Help me say no to those things that keep me from spending time with my child. Lord, give us Your peace that we may rest in You. Give us a good new day tomorrow. Amen!