“What is hair made from?”
“Do lizards go to heaven?”
“Why do we stop at red lights?”
“Who’s your mom’s mom?”
“Why do I have to tell Jesus what I did wrong when He already knows?”
In our house with six kids, a menagerie of outside pets, and two often exhausted parents, our kids’ questions kept us on our toes and sometimes pushed me to the edge. Questions ranged from cute to confounding.
And I bet you, too, deal with more than one child asking questions at the same time. And always, it seems, when mom is busy with other tasks.
Nothing like trying to finish preparing dinner and explaining where babies come from! Or juggling laundry and a sibling’s homework and answering the question, “How small are the people on the radio?” Or talking on the phone taking care of something important, and hearing that little voice asking, “Why did the fox kill our baby chickens?”
Phew. And it didn’t stop at bedtime: “Does God sleep?” … “What does His bedroom look like?” … “Is He really real?”
It always seemed the lights-out hour was delayed because that’s when my kids wanted to talk. No doubt it was often a delay tactic, but I also knew they asked questions because they saw I was focused on them as I tucked in each one for the night and prayed for them.
My kids were smart. They knew I was distracted much of the other time during the day. So I tried to patiently answer a few questions at bedtime. Even one honest answer of one question from each of my six made for a long, drawn-out bedtime many nights.
Was it even worth the time? Why did this matter in my home? Does this matter in your home?
One of my favorite writers, Edith Schaeffer, said the family is a perpetual relay of truth. Perpetual. What a great word for the race of parenting!
When you engage your children’s questions you are participating in a relay of life.
As their first and most important teacher, you are helping them learn about every subject related to God’s world. But most importantly you are teaching them about God Himself by what you say and how you live.
Here are four helpful training tools to equip you as a parent while you relay the truth to your children:
1. Look to the God who called you to be a parent. Even though you are learning as you go, you are not alone. Jesus prays for us (Romans 8:34) and so does the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26,27)! Learn to depend more and more on the willing help God is so eager to give you for this race.
Ask Him how to answer those faith questions that leave you shaking your head incredulously. Ask Him about the other ones, too, since He is Creator and Lord over all. He delights in our questions to Him … unlike we mortals who too frequently become impatient!
And teach your children to ask God all their questions, too. Guiding them to talk to God about everything is one of the most important skills you can teach.
2. Look to parents who have gone before you. I hope that in sharing my experiences, you can see that you are not the only mom who’s ever been embarrassed from your 2-year-old’s bathroom stall query, “Momma, is that a man in the girl’s bathroom? … But why is her hair so short?”
Like every athlete who is strengthened by the cheers of the crowd in the stands, so we are also surrounded by a cloud of witnesses watching us run our race. They have finished their laps in the relay of truth and are cheering for us as we finish ours. We also have those of us still on earth who have finished our parenting journey and want to be your mentors, cheerleaders, and prayer support.
3. Look to those running this relay beside you. Sometimes you just need to know you’re not the only one confounded and embarrassed by your child’s questions. Be willing to share honestly with your friends and listen to their stories too. Find time to laugh about some of the crazy and embarrassing moments while reminding each other how important the questions are.
4. Don’t leave all the asking to your kids. While it is important to focus on your children’s questions and answer them authentically, it is also important to ask your children questions. Ask how they feel when going through a difficult time. Help them articulate their emotions. Empathize, affirm, hug, and lead your children to the source of all truth.
You can thank Jesus that He knows our every sorrow, feels our griefs, and will someday make everything right. Read verses from the Bible to show your children how much Jesus loves us and cares for us. And show your child where to find them in their own Bibles.
Another idea is to choose to sometimes turn the questions back on your children when they asks you “why?” Make it a dialog. You don’t have to answer every question. Let their imagination craft an answer. Don’t carry the burden of having to have all the answers. Sometimes asking questions is just a game kids play, so enter into their fun and let them be silly!
The relay race of truth
Passing the truth to the next generation is a relay race more important than any Olympic contest because the rewards last for eternity. The goal is that your children will run the race without stopping, without falling, without dropping the baton, and they will continue passing it on to their children’s generation.
Your home is the training facility for your children’s future. Answering questions and even admitting, “I don’t know, but let’s ask God to help us understand,” are part of modeling authentic faith for your children.
Your home is a relay of truth. And you’re going for the gold of a lasting legacy that withstands the test of time.
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to read some other content from Barbara on parenting: