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By Janis Fontaine

Several times in her life, author Lee Ann Mancini of Boca Raton has looked for a particular type of book and, unable to find it, decided to write it.

It started with “Sea Kids,” Mancini’s award-winning series of Christian children’s books.

When her children, Guy and Lena, now in their early 30s, were small, the only Christian books Mancini could find were books of Bible stories. Those were fine, as far as they went.

12621721657?profile=RESIZE_180x180Unable to borrow or buy what she wanted, Mancini wrote two books based on real-life problems and read them to her kids at night. She says she mostly wanted them to know that they can pray to Jesus, and he will help them.

Fast forward to 2005. Her children now teenagers, Mancini goes back to school to study theology and over the years earns three master’s degrees, in Christian studies, Christian and classical studies and Biblical and theological studies.

In her reading, she stumbles across a fact that stops her in her tracks: 40% of teenagers have walked away from their faith. The voracious researcher learned the truth: We were raising our kids with what Bible scholar Ken Ham called “a Sunday school faith” and it didn’t last.

“You cannot just send your child to Sunday school and expect that to be enough,” said Mancini, 65.

If you want your children to have a real relationship with God, you’ve got to start early and be consistent.

Realizing how few books existed like the ones she had written for her kids, in 2014 she founded GLM Publishing, short for God Loves Me. Mancini found an illustrator who brought her lively characters drawn from sea life to full, brightly colored fruition.

Her stories and the drawings resonated with children and, as she’d hoped, the books filled a void: accessible Christian children’s books that taught biblical lessons. Her delightful creatures had distinct personalities and modern problems that they used biblical principles to solve.

The series grew to six books (available on Amazon) and then, by God’s hand, they grew into an animated Christian children’s series called SeaKids.

There are now 26 episodes, each about 11 minutes long. Titles include “The Respect Effect,” “Love Is the Best Policy,” and “A Thankful Heart.” Each has a Bible verse and a lesson based on it. Episodes are available on Answers.TV, Pure Flix, Right Now Media and SeaKidsTV (seakidstv.com).

In 2020, Mancini began hosting the award-winning podcast Raising Christian Kids (available on all major platforms and streaming on KHCB Radio’s Upliftd station).

She shares biblically based wisdom and insightful tools for parenting that bring kids closer to Jesus. The podcast has grown to more than 300 episodes featuring a full plate of experts and guests. In 2023, Mancini founded the nonprofit Raising Christian Kids and then in February she published her new book, Raising Kids to Follow Christ: Instilling a Lifelong Trust in God.

After reading more than 215 parenting books and hundreds of articles, she combined that information with lessons from her podcast to deliver a 192-page roadmap for raising kids from the womb on. (Yes, you should read the Bible to your baby in utero!)

Mancini begins at the beginning by providing a simplified, child-friendly version of the Ten Commandments. The rules, which are found in the fifth chapter of Deuteronomy written in language that is a challenge for educated adults, are converted into words a child can understand.

Mancini found her purpose and inspiration in what some call the Lord’s “Greatest Commandment,” Deuteronomy 6:4-7, which says: “4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (King James version)

So important is this scripture, this same passage hangs in Hebrew, along with Deuteronomy 11:13-21, written on tiny scroll lovingly protected in a mezuzah, a decorative box, outside many Jewish homes.

“Children have to be our top priority,” Mancini said. “We have to be the Rosie the Riveters of our time. Our parents went out and joined the fight, and we have our own fight, but ours is counterculture warfare.”

Mancini believes that Christians need to reaffirm and refocus on Jesus to succeed in this complicated world. A child’s world view — his way of looking at the world, his standpoint on how things work — is established by about age 16, Mancini said.

Only by teaching the biblical principles early will we raise kids with a biblical, God-centered world view, Mancini says. And 45 minutes on Sunday morning just won’t cut it.

“The prevailing world view among 99% of young teens is syncretism, a combination of different beliefs,” Mancini said.

Kids are exposed to far more world views than ever before through social media. But these are “man-made” views, Mancini argues, not founded in faith.

How do we keep kids’ focus — and our focus as parents — on Godly principles like the Ten Commandments? How do we incorporate Jesus’ teachings into our daily lives?

“Muslims pray five times a day,” Mancini said. “How many times do Christians pray?”

In Mancini’s home, a lot. Her day begins and ends with prayer, with time set aside to read her Bible and to pray alone and with others throughout the day. Because her faith is a priority, Mancini does not let “life happened” moments interfere with her commitment to God.

Churches, synagogues and mosques, houses of worship of all kinds, agree that attracting families to their pews and prayer mats will determine their success or demise.

“We have to help the church attract parents,” Mancini said.

But to do that, the church needs to invest financially in and give priority to programs that support families and make religion more accessible so when parents need help, they know where to turn.

“Help is out there for parents,” Mancini said. “All you have to do is pray.”


Janis Fontaine writes about people of faith, their congregations, causes and community events. Contact her at fontaine423@outlook.com

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