To help parents do family better, the Fuller Youth Institute is debuting the DVD release of the new Sticky Faith Family Training five-session video curriculum. To celebrate this new resource, we’ve asked Kara Powell to share research-based ideas to help your family build lasting faith as you head into the school year.

There’s a sixth member of the Powell family now: Samoa.

She is a hamster. And our first pet. Her nickname is “Hammy.” Our 14 year-old son sometimes refers to her as “Dinner.”

Our oldest two children have asked for a pet periodically, but have never been that serious. Jessica, our nine-year-old, went hard to the hoop.

On her own initiative, she made two PowerPoint presentations about hamsters.

After her slide shows, we gave her additional questions she needed to answer, such as the cost of food and the cage. She did her homework and came back to us with figures.

She saved up money to buy this hamster, forgoing gum and candy.

We told her she needed to figure out what would happen to the hamster when we traveled, so she roped in some neighbors and my mom as “hamster sitters” when needed.

She did an oral report for Dave and me about hamsters.

She printed out directions from our house to the nearest pet store.

Clearly, she wanted a hamster.

Because of our Sticky Faith research, Dave and I agreed she could have one. We decided that while it means extra work and hassle for our family, having a pet is one of Jessica’s sparks, meaning it’s one of her passions, interests, or abilities. As we researched families who are amazing at building long-term faith for our new book, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, I was struck by how these parents leaned into their kids’ interests. Moms played video games with their sons. Dads learned about gymnastics. Grandparents studied up on dinosaurs.

Supporting Jessica’s sparks meant getting a hamster.

When we told her she could get a hamster, she checked out some books from the library to learn how to care for her future pet.

She even picked out the outfit she wanted to wear for when we went to the pet store and she “met” her hamster.

I like the hamster. But I don’t love her. However, I sure love my daughter. So I’m going to be enthusiastic about Samoa around Jessica.

In the spirit of long term faith, if you want to support your child in their spark, ask yourself these 4 key questions:

  1. What is your kid passionate about?
  2. How can you support your child in that interest?
  3. What would you lose by doing so?
  4. What would you gain?

You may not end up with a furry pet. But hopefully you’ll end up with a closer relationship with your child.

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