Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 NKJV)
[by Dean Smith] The Book of Proverbs gives a word of encouragement to parents about their children. The Bible tells us if we train a child in the ways of God that this faith and beliefs would continue to influence them well into old age.
But notice how it says “when they are old” they won’t depart. In between, we can watch, often with concern, as our children seem to grow cold to their faith and in some ways even back away from it or even fall away. But Bible says the faith developed in their hearts as a child is still there and as they grow older it will begin to reassert itself.
Researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey, USA, have discovered a very interesting thing about beliefs. They found that despite what university students were saying openly about God or heaven, the beliefs of these students were very similar to what they held when they were young.
In her study reported in the Daily Mail, psychology doctoral student Stephanie Anglin surveyed the beliefs of 348 undergraduate students about the afterlife and existence of a soul. She asked them what they believed at the age of 10 and then through a series of tests determined what they believed at their present age of about 18+.
She discovered that their beliefs were basically the same as when they were younger, this despite the fact many of these students were openly saying they didn’t believe in heaven, hell or even God.
She used a word association test to find their current beliefs. A word was flashed on a screen and they were told to quickly associate it with words at the top of the screen. For example, when Anglin flashed the word “soul,” students were asked to associate it with either “real” or “fake.” This automatic association determined their deeply held beliefs.
In her study, reported in the Social Psychology, Anglin also spoke about a research project undertaken in 2009, where people were given $2 to sign a contract basically selling their soul. This group included a number of people who claimed they did not believe in a soul or after life.
“Almost nobody signed, even though the researchers told them it wasn’t actually a contract and would be shredded right away.”
So parents be encouraged — don’t measure your child’s faith by what you see them doing or hear them say. Continue to pray and believe.
In a related article, I discuss how and why parents shape a child’s perception of God. Read: Why do I have a wrong perception of God?
- Do you pretend not to believe in Heaven but secretly do? People hide their true spiritual beliefs as they get older, study finds: Daily Mail