I've commented on other ornaments about how baking together is a powerful, obvious and enjoyable symbol of quite literally passing knowledge onto a new generation. We inherit the wisdom and faith of our elders through engaging in a work together. Because food is such a necessary and elemental need of us all, baking is an "easy sell" when it comes to convincing younger bear cubs of doing something together with us.
But I've found this changes as those same little bears grow older. What was once seen as a super fun activity with mom, dad, the aunts or whoever is the family baker, comes to be seen as a total drag. It becomes a wasted afternoon spent in the kitchen, standing around, washing endless dishes, and the cookies "aren't that great anyway." It's really just part of the phenomenon of growing up and growing into a separate identity. So, at this point, parents have to make a choice: do we "force" the kids to participate or let them wander off?
This exact discussion is one I've had many times with parents who are facing the very same choice when it comes to faith. The problem is the same: do the parents "force" their children to participate and attend in the faith of the home or just let them do their own thing? I've heard different parents argue passionately on both sides of the coin. Here's my opinion. Make the kids participate. Put up with the attitude and eye-rolling. In fact, one of the best things kids can learn if parents are consistent in taking their kids to church is that God is there for them in whatever shape they are in. You don't have to have it all together to show up. You just have to keep showing up. God is not afraid of adolescent attitude (no matter the age of the person). That's an important thing to learn. Now, I also want to add that a great amount of the attitude I see in the parents towards their faith is mirrored in their children. Simply put, if mom and dad are committed, engaged and excited, 9 time out of 10 so are the kids. There's always going to be that initial resistance towards doing something that is healthy and "good for us," such as pursuing a spiritual life, but let's see this clearly. To return to baking as a metaphor - when those sweet little bear cubs are all grown up and living on their own, don't we want them to be able to feed themselves well? Do we really want them to try to cook a meal or even bake some cookies when all they know is how to crack an egg, kind of? Walking with our children through all stages of faith development is a vital part of parenting. If we want them to eat well, first we have to show them again and again, where to find the food that will nourish them, and how to apply it in their daily lives. And the neat thing is that in staying faithful to them on this journey is really how we learn to provide nourishing food for ourselves, as well.