Faith at Home

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Seeing Is Believing

by Barbara Laufersweiler

Rays of colored light fell on the face of my toddler as he put his hand in the colorful light from the stained glass windows. In our pew, he sat up straight at the swell of sound as voices all around were lifted in song together. He grinned at the many people sitting around us and chortled to the delighted older woman behind us. Yes, Sunday service with our toddler!

We often say babies are like little sponges, because they absorb so much, from the very first moments after birth onward. When our faith is part of our family lives, our children absorb it along with everything else they're learning.

Sabbath candles, chanted blessings, special bread. Grace before meals, holding hands. Daily prayers, prayer beads, special clothes, and holy days and seasons. The details of how we express our faith in our daily lives are noticed by our children of every age, and they do not need words to absorb the richness in these details.

Neither talking nor reading is necessary for our littlest children to be the sponges for information that they naturally are. We can confidently let our family life of faith prepare our children for later explanations and teaching.

Talk with parents of two- or three-year-olds and you'll discover almost everyone has a story about the time their child referred to an experience that had happened before the child could use words. It's an amazing moment, realizing how much of the last year or more of your lives together was poured into your child and, rather than disappearing, was being absorbed!

Only after he or she begins to talk can your child turn on the spigot and give you a hint of those experiences and that understanding. This means you can trust your faith to make rich impressions on your baby and child in the first months and years.

Actually, the importance of living your faith in your family life will continue throughout the many years until your child is able to put into words any sort of theological understanding.

Take advantage of the attention your baby or toddler gives you. Go about your life of faith and expect your child to notice everything about that aspect of your life together.

When your baby becomes a preschooler, the time will be right to teach brief prayers or songs, and talk about what you're doing. By then they'll be ready for those words. For now, rely on the wordless riches of your family's life of faith.

Barbara Laufersweiler is an at-home mom, an Episcopalian, and the creator of Faith at Home, , a Web site offering help to parents as they explore and enjoy faith with their children. Copyright © 2001 Barbara K. Laufersweiler. All rights reserved.

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Copyright © 2002 Barbara Laufersweiler
Last updated June 18, 2001


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