Dr Markham has written a great article about spiritual lessons our children need to learn whether we are religious or not. I recommend this article for all parents.
Sometimes I have thought parenting for religious parents is harder. Our beliefs and rules come from a source that we may not like to question and it can feel as though so much is at stake (…heaven or hell). We can feel so strongly about adherence to it that it easily becomes a battle ground with our children who will very likely have a different view than we do.
To religious parents I would say, take away your beliefs for a moment and think only about the child as an individual. Take away all the expectations or requirements you so desperately want your child to follow. How do you feel about that child now? What do you want from them now? If you are like me (devoutly religious), you automatically move to cherishing the child as unique and someone you want to enjoy an individual relationship with. The pressure to change or coerce that child into being someone they may not want to be is gone. That is the basis of good parenting and all good relationships. Accepting someone as they are and not trying to change them into who you want them to be.
Dr Haim G. Ginott speaking to parents about sex and human values said, “Some parents, especially religious ones, for whom premarital sex is a sin, think that making their children feel guilty for even innocent sexual interests is an effective way of teaching values.”
This idea of shaming a child can apply to more than just sex. For religious parents, guilt should not be a way of trying to enforce our values on another. Sometimes we may be shaming our children without realising it. Kyle Wester is a parent coach who I have had a few sessions with and found extremely helpful in this area.