In our house it starts with, “Mommy, can I please talk to you about something ‘portant.” What follows is a deep, intellectual question that causes me to check the child’s birth certificate to insure the child’s actual age.
And if you think these tough questions begin at puberty, you have a big surprise coming. Starting at the age of three, our kiddos have shocked me with a basket load of deep questions.
What makes these questions difficult is that I am often blindsided with the topic and the questions are sometimes abstract.
So, how is an adult to handle them?
Here are a few pointers that I have picked up along the way.
1. Turn the question back to the child.
Asking “What do you think?” provides you with additional think time and allows you to start the oxygen flow back to your shocked brain. This also provides you with additional information into the child’s question as well as their understanding of the question. (See next point.)
Luke 10 contains an example of Jesus being asked a “tough” question by an expert in the law concerning what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus responded in verse 26 “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”. If it worked for Jesus, it will work for us!
2. Allow the child to think for themselves.
By turning the question back on the child, you allow the child to draw from past knowledge to help him formulate an answer. Guiding him through this process helps the child handle future questions.
3. Try to determine why the question is being asked.
By figuring out why the question was asked, you can better answer the question. This also allows you to address a situation your child may be struggling. One way to determine the underlying question would be to say, “Tell me where you heard about…” or “Are you concerned about…?”.
I have found this very helpful with Bubs and his severe language processing issues. His questions seem random until I dig deeper and realize that he heard or saw something that is bothering him. He uses questions as a way to share how he is feeling.
4. Don’t give more information than is appropriate for that child.
Just because it is asked doesn’t mean that a dissertation is necessary. Keep the explanation easy enough for the child to grasp and do not provide so much information that the child feels lectured to. Also make sure that you understand the question before running away with an answer.
5. Correspond the question to a Bible story.
If possible, find a story or verse in the Bible that demonstrates the answer do the child’s question. For example, if the child has a question about forgiveness read the story in Genesis when Joseph forgives his brothers. This is a Teachable Moments at its finest.
6. Admit you don’t know if necessary.
Never be embarrassed to be real with your child. It is in these times that honesty and humility are lived out in front of your child.
7. Spend time researching the answer with your child.
By searching for answers, you demonstrate to your child how to find answers to tough questions in the future. Bible apps and the BibleGateway.com website can help you find verses that focus on the topic in question. Of course Google is a great resource but always cautiously use the internet. Taking the time to find the answer shows that what is important to the child is important to you.
8. Take your child’s questions seriously.
Because…each question is important to your child. And if you don’t take your child’s question seriously, they will begin to ask questions elsewhere.
9. Pray with your child about the questions and circumstances.
Jeremiah 33:3 say, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
I define a “teachable moment” as an unplanned, God-given opportunity that arises with your child or student, that if grasped, provides an ideal chance for learning to occur. It is the personal implication of the moment that provides for the maximum amount of learning. Read this blog series and learn how to take advantage of these fleeting moments.