Yolanda Adams Says Parents Should Give Kids the Freedom To Develop Their Own Spiritual Path

Gospel music icon Yolanda Adams talks about her new show, Kingdom Business, and encourages parents to allow their children to develop their own version of faith.

Gospel artist, songwriter, and actress Yolanda Adams has been using her voice to inspire audiences through contemporary music for more than two decades. Now, she can add her first starring role in a television show to her incredible accolades.

Adams is committed to the part of Denita Jordan, the reigning queen of gospel who owns her record label and is rooted in the tradition of gospel music and religion. The gospel legend stars in Kingdom Business, a TV show on BET and BET+, produced by Devon Franklin, Holly Carter, and Kirk Franklin.

In an interview with Kindred by Parents.com, the five-time Grammy Award winning artist and morning show radio host spoke about growing up in a household where God was cool, all faiths were celebrated, and her spiritual journey as a mother to Taylor Ayanna Crawford.

"I'm happy to play the character of Denita because the role is different. Totally not me, so I had to stretch to play her," she told Kindred by Parents.com. "I was attracted to this role because I wasn't playing myself. I'm often featured as a cameo or a gospel singer who's like me. This one was meaty."

Kingdom Business takes you on a roller coaster and is full of mysteries, suspense, and murder. Stories of shame, redemption, deliverance, and family and relationship heartbreak are signified on the show and echo human experiences that many people deal with today. The show portrays multiple generations of faith. Just as Denita (Adams) relishes in the fruits of her labor, everything begins to fall apart when someone threatens her status.

"We wanted to be transparent and authentic in our presentations of every character and show how a person loses their faith," Adams said. Rebel, played by Sereyah McNeill, is the character opposite of Denita (Adams). Rebel (McNeill) has a questionable past and leaves the church because of heartbreak.

As a mother, Adams talked about the importance of evolution related to motherhood and cultivating a spiritual environment for her daughter to grow. "I grew up in a household where God was cool already, so I never had that traditional dogma or stigma of it has to be like this, or it doesn't work. God in our house was flexible. God in our house was total love," she says. "God in our house was a total joy. I never looked at my faith as anything other than cool."

Adams never put any pressure on her daughter Taylor to be her mini-me. She understood she was birthing a different person in another generation. Understanding that generational difference and balancing a nurturing climate instead of extreme parenting is a parent hack Adams is eager to share.

In today's world, Black parents should embrace the conversation of spiritual exploration with their children, but often it is not always an open dialogue in our households. When it comes to religion and faith, teenagers and their parents tend to have a lot in common—though not quite as much as parents may think, according to a new analysis of Pew Research Center survey data. Of approximately 1,800 teenagers surveyed alongside one of their parents, about half the teens (48%) say they have "all the same" religious beliefs as their parents. But among the other half of all teens – those who say they share "some of the same" beliefs or hold "quite different" beliefs from their parent—about one-third say their parent doesn't know that they differ religiously. Adams believes it is vital to have tough conversations with our children because our faith stabilizes us.

"You have to start with a foundation," she said. Adams grew up with friends of different faith denominations, whether Muslim, Christian, or Jewish, which enhanced her experiences and allowed her to embrace everyone. This also allowed the Houston, Texas, native to initiate conversations with her daughter, Taylor, about her relationship with God, especially in her teenage years. She gave her daughter the freedom to explore her faith, understanding who she was and her personal faith walk. "Find your own niche. Find your own relationship with God. If that looks different from mine, I have to respect that because I've had that all my life."

When we make demands on our children, we do a disservice by not having tough talks. "In parenting, we have to have those tough talks. Sometimes it's about relationships, mental health, sports, activities, or spirituality. Because in this Google world, young people want to know."

The importance of faith and mental health coexisting is essential. Adams said, "faith is like breathing. You either have it, or you don't." Since mental health is a theme in Kingdom Business, Adams' character Denita has a daughter who struggles with grief and loss. She says, "one of the things we have to stop doing is trying to put a prayer bandaid on everything. We have to face some issues." Denita (Adams) has some ugly moments on camera that hopefully help people get rid of the perfect persona, being in denial and keeping up appearances. Kingdom Business gives a glimpse of how flawed we all are and how we need to make changes in our lives.

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