By Kayla Stevens
Kids ask hard questions. The more time I spend with the kids in my life, the more amazed and grateful I am of their curiosity, inquisitiveness, and perspectives on the world around them. And if I’m honest, I’m also tempted to change the subject sometimes.
Talking about the hard stuff is not always easy or comfortable, but if one thing is true about this year, it is that we are learning to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. Our current realities provide us with unique opportunities we can either shut down or lean into as we seek to engage kids with important conversations. As you have conversations with kids, consider these suggestions to guide your conversations.
- Recognize opportunities. Notice the conversations your kids are having, the questions they are asking, and the information they are absorbing. Lean into the hard stuff and use these moments to point your child to the gospel. Someone is shaping your child’s view of the world—make sure that someone is you.
- Help kids feel safe. Everything is personal for kids, from the toys they build to their dog’s names to what they are hearing from the media or friends. Remind your child that she is in an emotional safe zone as she asks hard questions and tries to understand what is happening around her. Be honest that you may not have all of the answers, but you are willing to find them together.
- Present facts in an age-appropriate and unbiased way. Share facts surrounding the conversation at hand with age-appropriate language. Try not to include your own biases at first, but allow your child the space and freedom to think critically. Recognize the message or messages that are being elevated and discuss those with your child. How does this information make her feel? How does she think God feels about what is happening?
- Discern together. Next, coach your child on how to approach these situations from a biblical perspective. What are the core struggles surrounding this situation? What words are we hearing to describe what is happening? Do those words have the same meaning as what the Bible teaches? What parts of this issue does the Bible agree with? Are there any areas that the Bible disagrees? Help your child see how this situation points to Jesus and biblical truth. Open your Bible and read passages together that speak towards the topic at hand. Don’t merely teach what the answers are; teach your child how to find the answers.
- Identify what your family can do differently. “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22 As you talk about the hard stuff, commit to action, not only information. Can you institute family walks around your neighborhood after dinner to pray for the details surrounding the conversation? Can you continue your research and seek to be more informed? Is there something you can do in your community? Find ways to evaluate how your family can take steps towards change that actively trusts Jesus, humbly sacrifices, and engages in ways that honor God.
Engaging in tough conversations with your kids isn’t always comfortable. It demands your time, attention, diligence, and discernment. And it is always worth it. Don’t be afraid to talk about the hard stuff with your kids. Pray for wisdom and discernment, and seek opportunities for your family to be a catalyst for biblical truth in a world looking for answers.
Kayla Stevens has been serving in kids ministry for over ten years. She is a content editor for Lifeway Kids and a graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Kayla lives in Nashville, Tennessee and enjoys teaching kids each week at her church.