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What Matters Most in Parenting

3. Child-centered rather than parent-centered conversations

4. The crucial role of fathers

5. Parents sharing the same religious faith and practice

6. Two-parent households

7. Grandparents reinforcing the parents

8. Too much or too little religious socialization

9. Parental consistency in word and deed, rule, and meaningful intentions

Most of these are self-explanatory and self-evident. First, that the most effective parent conversations about faith with children are children-centered rather than parent-centered. In other words, the children are asking the questions and being allowed to talk while parents are staying more on the listening end. You allow the questions about religion to be their questions and related to their life.

When parents talk too much, make demands without explanations, force unwanted conversations, restrict discussions to topics that they control, faith transmission is likely to not only be ineffective, but also counterproductive.

Second, that too much or too little religious socialization by parents tends to undermine the transmission of religious faith to children. In other words, faith is optimally passed on when parents are intentional, consistent and actively engaged, but neither hands-off nor overbearing. If efforts at socializing a child religiously are weak and sporadic, those efforts will fail. If efforts at socializing a child are relentless or overbearing, those will also fail—even creating rebellion.

So, what matters most in parenting?

It depends.

If all you care about is worldly accomplishment, then perhaps one factor might be where you raise your child.

But if you run a bit deeper than that, and care about the spiritual formation of your child—values, beliefs, behaviors, faith—then it’s not about where you raise your child,

… but who you are as a parent as you raise your child.

This article originally appeared here and is used by permission.