Children are naturally inclined to the spiritual realm. Believing in God comes easily for them. In renowned psychiatrist Robert Coles’ book The Spiritual Life of Children, he explains that children are much more curious about God than we might think they are, and they are able to think about spiritual topics on a deeper level than we would expect. This is why it’s important for us to talk to our kids about God—they are already thinking about God anyways!
Parents might be tempted to talk to their kids separately about this topic—moms talk to daughters, fathers talk to sons. But I think when it comes to sons, mothers are the perfect person for this job. In fact, you are the better person for this job.
We have long been taught that boys are visual people, they need to see adult men in motion in order to figure out what life as a man is like. Boys see behaviors and they try them on. If a son sees his father speak with a kind tone in his voice, chances are excellent that he too will speak kindly. But when it comes to God, sons watch their mothers to form their opinions. Why? Because mothers are their wellspring of nurture and emotion.
God is good for boys. A belief in God will help your son form his identity, it will keep him on the right moral path and it will take him deeper in his life, helping him ask big questions and care about more than surface-level things. Don’t believe me? Consider these statistics found by the National Survey of Youth and Religion1:
- 54 percent of teens who say they are devoted to God say they are “very happy” while only 29 percent who are disengaged from God say the same.
- 47 percent of religious teens think about the meaning of life while only 26 percent of non-religious teens do the same.
- Only one percent of religious teens said they got drunk every few weekends during the past year while ten percent of nonreligious kids got drunk that often in the same period of time.
Additionally, religion is good for the mother-son relationship. Consider these statistics:
- 88 percent of devoted teens feel extremely or very close to their mothers while 66 percent of non-religious feel the same.
- 80 percent of devoted teens say they get along extremely well with their mothers while 51 percent of non-religious teens say the same.
- 93 percent of religious teens say they feel that parents love and accept them a lot for who they are; 74 percent of non-religious teens feel the same.
There are probably mixed reactions to this research. Some of you may be feeling guilty for not talking with your son about religion more. Some of you may think there was an agenda with this survey by uber-religious people and it can’t be trusted. But I can tell you as a mother and as a pediatrician that I have looked at these figures and the study done behind them, and I can tell you I am convinced that allowing our sons to express their spiritual nature and explore a relationship with God is good for them.
We are all afraid our sons will fall into bad habits, fall in with the wrong crowd or not be successful in life. But giving them a faith in something bigger than they are, a moral God with a strong sense of right and wrong, justice for others and love for one another can instill an invaluable amount of good in our boys. One that our culture is actively fighting against.
One last point I would like to make; if you dig deeper into the research you will find that the roots of spiritual development are strongest if they come from home. And in my interviews and research, they are strongest in sons if they come from mom.
Don’t skip out on this conversation. Don’t leave it up to the pastor or youth leader or friends. Your sons are already thinking about God and they want to know what you think. Don’t be afraid or worry that you don’t know enough. As your son’s mother, you are already equipped with everything it takes to help guide this crucial part of your son’s development.
1Stats taken from the National Survey of Youth and Religion research project in 2008. Results were released under A Research Report of the National Survey of Youth and Religion.