Seven truths about your child’s spiritual development

Written by Jen Forsthoff
Published on January 27, 2023

There are things we can observe about our children. We can watch them grow physically. We can see them develop cognitively, and even see them mature emotionally. But what about spiritually? I have often found myself wondering what is going on below the surface of my children’s hearts. What do they understand about God? Are the seeds we plant as Christian parents taking root?

Spiritual progress can be even more difficult when parents are raising a special needs child. If a child has a diagnosis that affects their mind, their language, and their processing skills, parents can often wonder if their special needs child will ever really know God? When I consider my daughter and the challenges she faces due to her diagnosis, I wonder if she understands basic pillars of our faith: repentance, salvation, God’s love, heaven, and prayer.  

There are aspects of our children’s faith and spiritual development that will be difficult for us to fully understand. Only God knows these things about our children, and unless the Lord chooses to reveal these things to us, we remain uncertain of their spiritual condition and the maturity of their faith. So, although we may not know the inner workings and dealings of the Lord within our children, there are many things we do know. We can choose to focus on what we know, rather than what we don’t know. As we look at the Word of God, we can lean on his ways, his nature, and his grace to determine the reality of our child’s spiritual development. Here are seven truths about your child’s spiritual progress based on God’s Word.

Seven truths about your child’s spiritual development

1. God’s Word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11)

The Word of God sown into your child’s life are seeds planted. These seeds bring inspiration and revelation of who God is. As the parent chosen for your child, speak the Word of God to your children each day. Read the Bible to your children, teach them the stories, sing spiritual truths to them, and take them to church to hear the Word of God. As your child hears the Word over and over, truth is being planted. And though the growth may not be evident at first, believe that roots are forming and a foundation is being built. The Word of God is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12), and will activate faith in your child’s heart. 

2. God has set eternity in their heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Every man and woman formed and shaped by God has an awareness of eternity. This applies to all mankind, typical and special needs. Our children, though they may be affected by a diagnosis, have received something from God that awakens them to the reality of eternity and the promise of heaven. Trust God’s Word, and that he has awakened your child to eternity. 

3. God will pursue your child just as he pursued you (Psalm 40:2)

Think back to the moment you first felt the love of God, the moment you experienced the washing away of your sin. God was pursuing you. He sent his Son into the world to show his love while we were yet sinners. He is a loving heavenly Father who will show his love and pursue his children, including your child. Your child’s salvation experience may look and feel different than yours, but it will be according to their understanding. It will be specific to how God designed them and how he reveals himself. 

4. God is the author and perfector of their faith (Hebrews 12:2)

Jesus made a way for salvation to be received by everyone who might believe. He is authoring and perfecting your child’s faith according to his gracious and glorious plan and purpose for their life. Their faith journey and salvation testimony will look different from another child’s, but it will be ordered by Jesus.

5. God created your child and knows how to capture their heart (Psalm 139:13-14). 

God knit your child together in the womb. He knows them and loves them more fully and deeply than you could ever understand. He knows what will awaken their hearts to his love. He knows what will capture their attention so they might draw close to him. He knows their fears, worries, dreams, and passions. Though they may not be able to express them to you as the parent, their heavenly Father knows all these things and can reveal himself in a way that will be most meaningful and impacting to them. 

6. Look for the evidence (Galatians 5:22-23)

Though your child may not be able to communicate their understanding of Scripture and faith principles, we can look for evidence in their lives. We can look for the fruit of the Spirit as proof God is working inside of them. Take note of the moments when your child shows love, expresses joy, has peace or patience. Watch for kindness and gentleness and self-control. These fruit of the Spirit are evidence that God is at work inside of your child. 

7. God hears your prayers (James 5:16)

Every prayer you offer up for your children is precious in the sight of God. As you pray, God hears. As you believe, God moves. As you trust, God proves himself faithful. Be a praying parent and know God is moving and working in your child’s life, even when you don’t see it.

I pray these seven truths bring confidence and peace that your child can know God and is growing spiritually. The next time you find yourself concerned or wondering about your child’s spiritual progress, remind yourself of these truths about who God is and what his Word says. Be encouraged that God loves your child, he desires for them to know him, and he hears your prayers.  

Consider a few extra resources:

Live perfectly imperfect

Get daily emails with practical and spiritual advice geared towards helping you set aside perfect and grow into the parent you want to be every day.

Jen Forsthoff

Jen Forsthoff is the author of Chosen for Charlie: When God Gifts You With a Special- Needs Child and Champion For Charlie: Rise Up and Advocate For Your Child. Jen and her pastor-husband, Lucas, live in Michigan with their three children. Their oldest, Charlie, was diagnosed with Trisomy 21 at birth and has opened their eyes to the needs of families just like theirs. Raising Charlie, along with her experience as a classroom teacher and in ministry, has fueled Jen’s passion to positively impact families who face the challenge of parenting a child with special needs.  She writes, speaks, and advocates for families who need a message of hope and biblical truth to shape the everyday perspective of their role as the parent and champion for their child. In both ministry and educational platforms, Jen is a voice for parents raising a special-needs child. As God has opened doors through radio, television, community events/organizations, and ministry partnerships, she continues to bring a message of hope to families. You can connect with Jen at and on Instagram @jforsthoff.

Read more about Jen

You may also like…

Privacy Preference Center