Every school day morning I sit around the table with my kids and we read a devotional book and a chapter of the Bible. My seven younger kids range from 6-16 years old, and they are all adopted. Some days they are gung-ho about God and all they are learning about Him. Other days questions spill out.
“If God is real why is there so much pain in the world?”
“If God is real why doesn’t He just show Himself to us?”
“Part of me wants to believe in God, but the other part of me just wants to go crazy and do stuff that looks fun but that God tells us not to do.”
As a mom, sometimes I want to freak out when I hear questions like this. I don’t want my kids to question. I just want them to believe what I tell them about God with blind faith. But then reality hits. No one has a strong relationship with God without the questions, without the wrestling.
I was raised in church, but when I got into high school I drifted. I wanted to date my boyfriend and be intimate with him without worrying about what God thought, so I pretty much didn’t think about Him … until I found myself abandoned by my boyfriend and pregnant at age seventeen. Only then did I wrestle with the questions. And after a while I discovered I did think He was real, and I did want a personal relationship with Him.
If our kids are questioning God they are at least thinking about Him. This is better than just ignoring God. When kids wrestle with questions, and look to adults for their opinions, they’re on the right track.
Still, dealing with the questions is hard. Here are a few things to ask yourself that will assist you in helping your child.
1. What is my child’s motive?
Is he asking because he really wants to know or is he just trying to be defiant? Sometimes my child is just in a bad mood. Or he is trying to push my buttons. If that’s the case I only give a brief answer. Yet if my child really has questions and his motive is to find an answer I’ll do my best to be available and to find resources that will help, namely Scripture.
2. Is my child simply trying to stall obedience?
Sometimes children ask questions about God because they’re hoping for a different answer than the one they’ve received. If my child is stuck on not wanting to obey I talk to him about the why behind the command. God isn’t a big bully not wanting us to have fun. His commandments are to protect us from pain, shame and regret.
3. What is the underlying emotion my child is dealing with?
Usually there is an emotion behind every question. Fear, embarrassment, pain, and worry are a few. Maybe your child is embarrassed when he is around friends who are not Christians. Maybe he struggles with pain from ways he’s been hurt in the past. Maybe he has worries or fears about the future. Let your child know that emotions are natural. Naming the emotion is a great first step. Second, is showing him someone in the Bible who had all the same emotions. (David’s Psalms are a great way to start.) God isn’t surprised by our emotions or our questions. He’s dealt with people throughout human history who’ve had the same. Jesus was caring and compassionate with those who had questions—it was the ones who thought they had all the answers and tried to impose them on others he had problems with. Let your child know he’s not alone, and his emotions and questions are safe with God.
4. Does this need to be answered today?
Most of the time we believe we have to come up with great answers right away for our children’s questions. Instead, be okay with taking a step back and giving your child space and time. Sometimes he will come up with the answers by himself. Other times God will bring the right person or resource to help. God is patient with us, and we need to be patient with our kids. Instead of worrying about trying to convince our child, pray for wisdom and pray that God will show up in amazing ways to reveal Himself to your child. Trust that God will!
If you’re looking for a resource to help you with your child’s questions, check out If I Could Ask God Anything. It’s a unique kid-friendly book jam-packed with clear, fresh answers to important questions about God, faith, prayer, and Christianity in language that children can understand.
How have you taught your kids that it’s ok to ask questions about God? What is your best tip for parents on how to respond to tough questions?