I’m going to answer this in a couple of different parts, and will include a brief video example of my answer as well to help provide clarity.
In this short video clip, Andy is explaining to Opie’s hobo friend (Mr. Dave) that the influences in thinking Mr. Dave has provided to Opie may have appeared to be a “different way to look at it,” but in the end, leads down a path that isn’t the best for Opie (in the long run, at least). Mr. Dave uses words that we can relate to today as well - like “living by your wit” and “exploring all your options” - we’d say similar things today. We want to be savvy in how we live our lives and the choices we make. We want to ensure that we’re looking at all the options that we feel suit us best and provide the best benefit for us in the short and long terms. Very similar to Mr. Dave.
However, Andy’s response shows a deeper understanding beyond the “wit” or “savvy” of what we think is understanding - Andy’s response shows wisdom - something that very few parents use when dealing with their children (which is why we see society, social media, etc. the way we do now - where it appears as though the kids rule the world and are smarter and more knowledgeable than the parents - but that’s another blog entry).
Watch the video and we’ll proceed with the answer afterwards.
The same applies to their faith/belief system. Jesus Christ is the only person who is a central figure in a faith that CLAIMED DIETY. And PROVED DEITY. The only one. All other major religions had prophets who pointed to “god” and created their own religions and cults. Jesus Christ didn’t point to anyone but Himself. Very unusual. There’s no “fence-riding” with Jesus (in fact, He said that Himself in Matthew 12:30 and Luke 11:23 - you’re either with Him or against Him). So, it’s incumbent upon Christian parents and Church children’s workers to teach the children the correct paths. That path leads to love and respect for God, for others, and for yourself, among other things.
While teaching children the foundations of the faith, there is a time to teach them about other belief systems as well - and to do so respectfully. But that time isn’t until the child (however old they are) has a handle on the Truth first. Like Andy said in the video, kids (or anyone immature) will grab for the first shiny thing that catches their eye, ignoring what may be best in the long run.
We do that with our own faith too - we want immediate satisfaction/pleasure/gratification/answers… and if someone who seems bright/intelligent/charismatic will give them to us, we’ll gladly accept them without doing our own research (which breeds your Lemming effect, mentioned above).
That’s NOT the goal of the Church - the goal of the Church is to TEACH children (and adults) to dig deep into the Bible for themselves, looking to those more mature in the faith to help with the harder questions/answers (VERY similar to what we’re doing with these questions/answers), but to trust that the Holy Spirit will guide them as they earnestly seek God’s Truth. So, we teach the Bible to EVERY age group - and teach them to NOT trust us, but to trust GOD’S WORD (which has never been proven incorrect).
As you teach your child faith in Jesus Christ, they’re not going to be perfect. They’re not going to follow it well sometimes (maybe not at all). And that’s up to them. All we can do as parents is to pray for them, love them unconditionally, and help guide them to the Bible that teaches us of a Heavenly Father who will love them perfectly. As they grow, they may choose a different church than you… that’s why there are so many churches - some people prefer old songs, some prefer new songs. Some prefer potlucks and pianos. Some prefer community groups and loud concerts. The key is this - as long as that church is PREACHING, TEACHING, LIVING, LOVING, WORSHIPPING Jesus Christ, then things are cool - any church that teaches salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone according to the Scriptures alone for the glory of God alone is good. We’re all on the same team.
It’s when a “church” strays from the above that things get sideways and wolves start preying on and deceiving the flock for their own gain.
To summarize, we teach our children to give them a solid foundation early so that when they are presented with all the other “options” (and they will be presented with LOTS of other options from society), they can analyze those options from a correct view point and hopefully make a wise decision that will lead them well through life, and not just a “short-sided” decision that will only benefit them for a short time. To repeat above, “train (or educate) a child in the way they should go, and when they’re older, they’ll not depart from it.” As we educate our children well, we are to give them wisdom (not just knowledge) that will help them through their lives. That wisdom is founded upon Jesus Christ.
This was a bit of a longer post, but I hope it helps you. If you’re wondering when you should start teaching your children about Jesus and when you should start bringing them to church, the answer is NOW.