Parents pass down their traditions by teaching their children their religion, history, and culture. This should be an uncontested fact of life. However, this raises a question about the United States of America, as what was once a very Christianized society has become an extremely secular one. And the same has happened in Europe.
So what happened to the West? How did we get where we are?
The answer is certainly complicated, as there are many factors involved in cultural change. But one thing we know for sure is that parents have an important role in shaping the next generation. This is because parents train their children and pass down their beliefs and traditions. Thus when we look to the decline of Christianity, we can only conclude that our parents have failed us. While some parents have done a good job passing on the Christian faith, many over the years have failed in this respect.
Of course, good parents cannot guarantee how their children will turn out. However, there is the biblical expectation that faithful parenting will produce faithful children (Deuteronomy 6:7-9, 20-25). Thus Scripture speaks of the responsibility of parents to pass on their faith:
[God] commanded our fathers to teach their children, that the next generation might know them [God's works], the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God (Psalm 78:5-7).
God commanded His people to teach their children His good works so they they should not forget. The responsibility for the religious beliefs of children clearly belongs to parents.
Sure the media (television, newspapers, and music) has been a major influence in the West. And the public schools and universities have pushed secularism on young people. But who decides what TV shows their children will watch? And who decides where their children will go to school?
Parents have massive influence on their children and the future generations. As Robert Lewis Dabney said, “There is no power allowed to any creature under heaven over another responsible creature so wide as this providential power of the parent.”
Over the past few generations, many parents have failed to properly exercise their authority over their children. They have abdicated this important responsibility, and they have failed to pass on their Christian faith and history.
In short, our parents have failed us.
But this is not a new thing. It happened often with the ancient Israelites. Just read the Old Testament. It also happened throughout European Christendom. There are ups and downs in church history. Parents often fail their children and the future generations.
So may we learn from the past. May we turn to the Lord Jesus Christ. And may we be faithful to our children, teaching them our faith and traditions. Our parents may have failed us, but we are not destined to do the same to our children.