Isn’t it a little odd that there are no report cards for parenting?! It might be nice to know you were doing a good job or where you need to improve your Christian parenting skills. Since there aren’t report cards, we have to guess what is working and what isn’t. It’s tricky, because some things that appear to be working in the short term end up being disastrous over time. Other things that don’t seem to make an impact suddenly appear to have worked really well when your child becomes a young adult.
Assessing the spiritual growth of your child is also difficult because his or heart is more indicative of spiritual health than their actions may be. So how do you know what is working and what isn’t? How do you know if your child is growing spiritually, stagnating or moving away from God?
There is no perfect assessment, but there are some things you can observe that will give you some important clues.
- Your child displays godly character traits more consistently and without constant reminders. Is your child becoming more truthful, kind, patient, etc.? Are you having to give fewer reminders and corrections for your child to act more godly? Does their behavior appear sincere or is it a manipulation technique?
- Does your child read the Bible independently? Like any habit, young children may need your help establishing good Bible reading habits. After a time though, they should be seeking time in scripture without reminders from you.
- Does your child have an independent prayer life? This one is tricky, because we often pray silently when praying independently. If a child is praying, though, he or she may mention praying about something, ask you to pray also, or quickly respond yes when asked if they are praying about something concerning them.
- Does your child’s decision making reflect a Christian worldview? Do they accept everything they are taught at school without thinking about whether or not it aligns with scripture? When faced with a choice does he or she consider what God may want him or her to do or is the choice based on personal feelings and preferences? A Christian worldview means God’s commands and principles are considered before accepting a new belief as true or when making decisions.
- Does your child display a servant heart? Does your child offer to help others without being asked? Does he or she help even when there is no benefit for him or her? Does your child help without complaining or whining?
- Is your child exhibiting a spirit of wanting to obey and please God? Or does your child want to argue against God’s commands or find loopholes to excuse disobedience?
- Is your child trying to obey the two greatest commands? Loving God with all of his or her heart, mind and soul and neighbors as themselves is not always easy, but does your child show an awareness of the commands and try to obey them, even when it isn’t easy?
- Does your child exhibit an increased knowledge and understanding of scripture? Over time your child should display an increased knowledge and understanding of scripture.
- Has your child asked to be baptized and commit his or her life to God? Some young people ask to be baptized for less noble reasons – like getting extra attention. A child who is growing spiritually will want to get baptized for the ”right reasons”.
- Is your child making attempts to share his or her faith with others? This can include casual conversations, inviting people to church, etc.
- Does your child have relationships with people who help him or her grow spiritually? These can be mentors, teachers and/or peers.
Remember, spiritual growth, just like physical growth can be uneven and vary from child to child. What you want to see is that your child is showing obvious signs of spiritual growth. If not, making adjustments in your parenting quickly can keep your child from failing to thrive spiritually.