According to pewforum.org, 71-percent of Nebraskans say they believe in God with absolute certainty. So as you can see, faith is the cornerstone of many peoples' lives. But a study shows only 47-percent of Nebraskans attend religious services at least once a week.
At Trinity Lutheran School in Lincoln, students are used to attending services. We talked to some first graders there who have a definite view of who God is. "He's the guy who made the Earth, and He's the most powerful God ever," says 1st Grader Will Jurgens. Taryn asked 1st Grader Hattie Bennett if she could ask God for anything, what would God ask for? Hattie said, "How to spell my name when I was four."
Merv Dehning is the principal at Trinity. He says kids pray for all sorts of things. "Everything from food, to their pets, their sick pets, to helping their brothers and sisters." And he says, helping kids understand the importance of prayer and faith is something parents should make a priority. "Scripture tells us that its the parents' job to raise the children. To train the child in a way they should go," Dehning says. "And when they are old, they will not fall from that. So here at Trinity, we work with families here to help them do that."
For a research-based opinion on this, we sought out Dr. Cody Hollist about kids and religion. He's with UNL's department of Child, Youth, and Family studies. Dr. Hollist says you can push any issue-- including religion-- too hard.
"We can push too hard with sports, we can push too hard with academics," Hollist says. But he says, having your kids involved with faith is helpful.
"Some of my colleagues here, one who just retired, for about 30 years has done research on strong families, and one of the seven characteristics of strong families is spiritual well-being," Hollist says.
Experts say when talking about God or a Creator, you can talk about it in simple terms. And while some would rather not believe at all, the Trinity Lutheran School first graders seem OK with the idea of God.
"He helps me get through things, like my spelling test and all of that," 1st grader Will Jurgens says.
Taryn asked Will if he could ask God for anything, what it would be. Will said, "If I could have a life in Heaven."
Experts say kids can never be too young to learn about faith. In our next report, we'll tackle another issue that's difficult for parents: when to have the talk about the birds and the bees.