By Stephanie Ziebarth, Barnabas Mentor Coordinator
Growing With by Kara Powell and Steven Argue released March 5. Starting off on Amazon as #1 in the youth ministry category and #3 in the Christian living family category, the book is already being resoundingly received as an excellent resource. I have been happily reading through it, gleaning practical application for both my Joy El role and my own family.
One statistic from the book particularly struck me this week:
While both mothers and fathers are important in maintaining a balanced atmosphere of warmth and challenge, fathers or other male role models may be the more important barometer. In evangelical Protestant families, 46 percent of young adult children who feel “not close” to their fathers maintain the same faith as their parents. When young adult evangelicals feel “close” to their fathers, that rate jumps to 71 percent. That 25 percent difference in faith adoption towers over the 1 percent gain in faith adoption between evangelical children who feel “close” (versus “not close”) to their mothers.
Did you catch that? When children feel “close” to their fathers, they are 25 percent more likely to continue following Christ as young adults!
It is important to note that the “feeling close” is determined by the child, rather than the parent, and that statistics show that children consistently rate those closeness feelings lower than their parents do. As Powell and Argue put it, “Our kids’ experiences and perceptions are not static, which means we have to continually pay attention to—and ask our kids how they are feeling about—our family rhythms and relationships.”
Part of the reason these statistics stood out to me is because of our upcoming parent-child retreats at Joy El, a Christian camp in PA. While all our parent-child retreats are intentional, enjoyable and edifying, there is something special about the father-daughter retreat, coming up April 12-14. My own daughter has often referenced her father-daughter retreat experiences, including one particularly poignant daddy-daughter discussion time that provided the opportunity to pose the question we are often afraid to ask: “If you could change something about our relationship, what would it be?” My daughter saw tears and hugs and long conversations throughout the building as dads and daughters had this powerful and necessary conversation.
Fathers and daughters were building closeness that would last beyond the weekend. Fathers were investing in their daughters’ hearts and long-term faith.
Sometimes it feels difficult to find the right timing and circumstances to ask this type of vulnerable question. In fact, fathers and daughters are not the only ones who struggle to create that heart-to-heart time for each other. Mothers and sons do too.
I, along with Powell and Argue, encourage you to make a “closeness” conversation a priority as soon as possible. We at Joy El are here to help through offering the parent-child retreats, where both fun activities and meaningful conversation time are built into the weekend experience.
Find more information and register for the retreats here:
Mother-Son Retreat March 15-17, (Sons 1-12th Grade)
Father-Daughter Retreat April 12-14, (Daughters 1-12th Grade)
Find out more about Growing With: www.growingwithbook.com.
Joy El Camps and Retreats is a Christian Youth Camp in PA, we offer Christian sleep away camps and retreats year-round for all ages in PA and we are a Youth retreat center in Pennsylvania since 1974. Our focus on making disciples is seen in Bible Adventure and the 4.12 Leadership Training Program