H is the master of asking difficult and complicated questions. Some days I just throw up my hands and say “Oh Lord, I need wisdom and I need it now!”
What is gay? Is killing always wrong? What does abort mean? Why are these people slaves? Where do babies come from? She’s not married and she has a baby… how did that happen? What are d-r-u-g-s? Why is that mommy being so mean to her little girl?
It seems that these questions from H always hit me hard. The responsibility of teaching a child about the world and how to react to it weighs heavily on me some days. A child’s basic world view is largely set up before they are about 8-10 years old. How will I build in to my child’s life and attitude towards others? So usually, when big time questions hit, I take a breath, pray for wisdom and the right words, and dive in. When we teach our children about tough or private issues we try to keep these things in mind:
If they are old enough to ask the question, they are old enough for a honest and age appropriate answer.
If they are asking us, we should take their query seriously. Usually if kids don’t receive a satisfactory answer they are not afraid to ask again somewhere else or make up their own reasoning.
Now, if you think about it for a minute, these come out of common sense. Think back to your childhood. Children will either find or make up answers for their big questions. This is why children come up with all sorts of crazy ideas of where babies come from, why the sky is blue, or one of my personal favorites, what the stars are. One of my brothers convinced our two younger siblings the stars were holes in the sky from guns being shot upwards. I’m still unsure if he believed it himself or just made it up to pull their leg! Now while the stars question wasn’t a huge life impacting issue, sometimes a child’s questions can be. For example we could be talking about our child’s sexuality and view on healthy relationships. Again think back on your childhood, and your poor parent’s attempt to share with you about the birds and the bees! How did that affect your view on human sexuality even into adulthood? Some of these questions will require us as parents to stop and think hard about what really is Truth. We may have to be humble and tell our child “I don’t know, honey. Let me think about it.”. Children can see when you’re just making up stuff, and if you do they will be much less likely to ask you more questions later or believe you in the future. Be honest with your children. They will thank you one day.
So, to wrap up:
- Think ahead about some of life’s big questions and how you would answer your child.
- Pray, ask for wisdom.
- Tell the truth.
- Keep it simple. Don’t launch into a dissertation.
- Don’t make them feel bad for asking. They need to feel secure in asking you the tough and personal questions.
- Answer in an age appropriate manner.
- Keep it short. Kids don’t usually want a long lecture, but want their question succinctly answered.
- Ask them if they have any other questions. Keep the door open.