I am reading some of Children Matter. I say "some" to be honest, because I am much more of a scimmer who jumps around and gets the gist, then a reader who starts at the beginning and goes to the end.
Sunday morning after next I am supposed to help a reading group discuss the chapter on Theology and Children. The authors talk about three distinct traditions - though certianly not the only ones - sacramental, covenantal, and conversional and how each tradition tends to handle the spiritual formation of children.
Which of course makes one think about one's own experience. The churches I grew up in were definitely "conversional" - children aren't Christians until they convert. The trick was, of course, to get us to convert in that narrow window of "old enough to make a personal decision, but still young enough to not be into full-blown adolescent rebellion."
Ten to twelve seemed to work well. Much beyond that, and many didn't seem to convert - having already having decided to blow off as uncool any type of repentance. If you miss that window, I guess it often means waiting until they are somewhere into college years or later. But college age seems more like a time when kids who didn't grow up Christian turn to it, rather than those who did, but opted out, come back. They usually seem to do so later.
Anyway - makes me think, and realize how different my children's experience has been from mine. I don't think they ever had the idea they weren't Christian and needed to convert, but more like they've always been Christian and took another step, a personal one, in continuing in that direction.
I just don't think they grew up with as much fear of hell (and of God) as I did. I count that a blessing. Which puts me somewhere more in a sacramental/convenantal world in practice with my own children.