A Child’s Question Sparks a Conversation
My eleven-year-old daughter asked me yesterday, “Is it okay if I learn about other religions?” The question was part of a conversation about how other religions object to Christianity. Thankfully, I already had an answer to her question because my husband and I had thought through this before. We knew we wanted to raise a Christian apologist.
God has given us the mandate to raise up our children according to His word. We are to instruct them in the ways of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ so that they will not depart from them. But their minds are so vulnerable and as parents we have to make decisions on how much to expose to them to and at what age.
Fear Sometimes Guides Our Parenting
Fear sometimes grips us and we want to keep them wrapped in a bubble. When my daughter was a toddler, I would desperately begin to run to her whenever she fell. My husband would stop me midway, bear hug me, and while holding me back whisper, “It is okay. She is okay.”
He didn’t want a child that needed mommy at every bump and bruise. My little rambunctious, curious child became one of the toughest kids I knew. One time she ran full force straight into a glass table, hitting her forehead head on and falling flat on her back. To the surprise of us all, she stared at the ceiling for a few seconds and then got back up and started running again. No tears.
Later, I appreciated the wisdom in my husband’s actions. I recognized I was letting fear drive my response instead of thinking what was actually in the best interest of my child.
We want our children to know that we are there for them, but to also learn how to manage and handle the bumps and bruises on the way. When my child hurt herself, I learned to watch, give her time to assess her own situation, and only step in when she really needed me or the injury was actually serious.
Helping Kids Wrestle with Difficult Questions Can Be Good
But now we worry about things other than scraped knees or bruised foreheads. We worry about how the world may draw my daughter away from God.
As parents we have three options. Option 1: We can expose them only to a Christian world view and “guarantee” for the 18 years they are with us, that they will “choose” the Christian faith. Option 2: We can introduce them to secular thoughts and ideas, risk that those ideas may take root, but continue to teach them Christian values and ideas. Option 3: We can let them see and be exposed to whatever they want and just pray and hope they will not stray from the faith.
Kids That Can’t Answer Tough Questions About Their Faith, are More Likely To Walk Away From the Church.
My husband and I have chosen option 2 and here is why. I have made mental notes of the stories I have heard of Christian children, raised in the faith, who later walked away. One common denominator seems to be that they faced questions to their faith that they could not answer. There are probably many other reasons why they walked away and the parents may have done everything right, but this one reason has always stuck out to me.
We know that ultimately we will not be able to control whether our children stay in the faith or not. However, we can help them wrestle with difficult questions now so that it doesn’t take them by surprise later.
Kids That Learn to Wrestle Through Difficult Questions Develop a Mental Toughness
Similar to when my husband and I wouldn’t immediately intervene when our daughter fell, we don’t intervene every time a difficult question comes up. We let our daughters consider the question. Think critically through it. We watch “from a distance” and as we see fit, provide feedback, explanations, or further resources as needed.
We have 18 years with our children before they go off into the world. We have 18 years to help them build a strong faith and that means helping them answer all the hard questions using their own critical thinking skills as well as spiritual tools we have taught them (prayer, Biblical knowledge, etc). So when my daughter asked me if she could study about other religions, I said “Absolutely.”
If Christianity is the true faith, than it should be able to stand against any other faith, belief, or idea and I believe it can. I don’t want my daughter’s first exposure to other religions to be when she is out of our home. I want her to be exposed while she is at home and we can talk and discuss and wrestle with all the issues at hand. I don’t want my fears to keep her in a bubble. I want to raise a little apologist who can confidently answer any objections to Christianity that any one may throw at her.I don't want my fears to keep her in a bubble. I want to raise a little apologist who can confidently answer any objections to Christianity that any one may throw at her. Click To Tweet
Exposure to Other Cultures and Ideas Can Also Help Kids Learn to Love
But I want her to be a lot more than just a good debater. I also want her to see people of different faiths for who they are. They are just people. I want her to be exposed to other cultures and not see people that are different than herself as “the enemy” or to be fearful of them. I want her to know and understand how they came to believe what they believe and I want her to love them whether they agree with her or not. I want her to feel comfortable in their midst all while being fully grounded as a follower of Jesus always responding to their objections with love, grace, and respect.
Parenting is not easy and my husband and I are constantly evaluating, and re-evaluting our parenting strategy. This is where our heart is right now and I do have to say that I am enjoying the conversations I am having with my eleven-year-old. She is curious and insightful and keeps me on my toes. And I just pray that in whatever areas my husband and I may fail, that God will fill in the gaps.
Why Tackling the Hard Questions, Empowers Your Daughters
One of the other benefits of tackling tough questions with your daughters, is that it empowers them. Just by the mere fact that they are girls, our men dominated world will many times dismiss their thoughts and ideas. They will have to work twice as hard to be taken seriously.
But if they can hold their own on questions about evolution, and why a good God would let people suffer, and why other religions do not offer salvation, you will have equipped them. You will have empowered them. They will not walk away from conversations feeling dumb and silly. They will walk away from conversations with an assurance of their faith and the boldness to continue speaking the Gospel truth.One of the other benefits of tackling tough questions with your daughters, is that it empowers them........... They will walk away from conversations with an assurance of their faith and the boldness to continue speaking the Gospel… Click To Tweet
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