Addressing Hard Topics With Children

BY DANA WILKERSON, CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR

C hildren are certainly unpredictable. When they say something extremely funny, we know what to do – either laugh or try to hide your laughter. But what can we do when they ask questions about a difficult topic? Do you know what to say? If not, don’t worry. You are definitely not alone.

Words are powerful. The way we respond to children and their questions has an effect on how they grow in their faith. But don’t let that scare you, because there is Someone who can help. Rely on the Holy Spirit as your guide. You can trust God with your child and with their questions. The goal is not to provide all the answers. The goal is not even to find all of the answers. The goals are for your child to know Jesus better and to learn they can trust God with their questions – both big and small.

You can trust God with your child and with their questions.

During this year’s study of Genesis, your child will most likely ask some of those hard questions. Rest assured that the BSF materials do not go into detail on these issues with your younger children. But they may still ask you some questions after their BSF lessons.

These are some of the topics that appear in Genesis:

Lesson 7: Racial injustice and drunkenness

Lesson 12: Homosexuality and rape

Lesson 13: Abandonment and divorce

Lesson 22: Rape and slaughter

Lesson 23: Sex and prostitution

Lesson 24: Infidelity

This might feel overwhelming, but we have created a framework that can help you engage in a conversation no matter the topic at hand:

Acknowledge your child’s questions or concerns.

  Validate their comments or questions.

 Normalize asking questions.

 Acknowledge their thinking.

You can say:

“I’m glad you asked that question. We all have questions. Let’s talk about this.”

“I’m impressed by the way you think about this.”

Allow your child to explore the topic.

  Clarify or define words or context.

 Discover how the topic makes your child feel about themselves, people, or God.

 Open up respectful discussion of viewpoints.

You can say:

“Do you know what this word means?”

“How does this make you feel about God?”

“What do you believe about this topic? How do your beliefs affect you?”

Admit we all need God’s help.

  Admit you and your child must humbly depend on God together for answers and understanding.

 Acknowledge you are still learning.

You can say:

“It is hard to understand how things like this happen. We both need God’s help to see clearly.”

“It feels uncomfortable when people believe different things.”

Affirm a truth about God and/or people.

  Give your child a biblical truth to hold onto as they wrestle with the topic.

 Connect the discussion to one of God’s attributes.

You can say:

“God’s image in us gives every person worth and purpose. How does that truth encourage you?”

“God is incomprehensible, but He loves it when people seek Him! What do you think about asking God to help you understand Him better?”

Avoid common pitfalls.

  Prevent the possibility of your child feeling shame for asking a question.

 Do not respond from shock.

 Avoid potentially shutting your child down from asking future questions.

 Do not make assumptions about what they know or believe.

 Do not try to force them to believe something.

 Based on your child’s age and stage of development, do not give more information than they need or than they ask for.

Try to avoid saying:

“That is not an appropriate question.”

“You are too young for this topic.”

“How could you doubt that about God?”

“In our family, this is what you must believe.”

We pray this framework helps you guide your children to God for the answers to life’s toughest questions. Thankfully, He is big enough to bring clarity to our confusion. We can rely on His Spirit will provide wisdom and comfort as we walk alongside our children in their spiritual growth.

30 Comments

  1. Just to catch with our Lesson 7 on racial injustice and drunkenness. Good support, thank you!

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  2. Very helpful. Thank you!

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  3. Very Useful. Thank you!

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  4. As a CS who started his CL career teaching Genesis back in 1998, I’ve always counseled my CL’s that Genesis is an R-rated book. Thank you for acknowledging that fact and giving us and families tools to discuss these matters with young children.

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  5. Excellent help! As a grandmother doing the lessons with my grandson, I am thankful for BSF’s support for families.

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  6. Thank you for these practical tips. They are helpful to my kids.

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  7. Thank you for the guidelines, very Insightful. And yes I am a grandmother and mostly study/do the BSF with my grandson. The questions have been overwhelming to the young inquisitive mind, but he is grasping a lot and his contributions wonderful. The Holy Spirit always intercedes, and makes it really enjoyable, and he really looks forward to the next study.

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  8. Thank you, this will be very helpful

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  9. Thanks for the educative and thought provoking piece. May we indeed be available for our children and grandchildren and the next generation at large. Amen.

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  10. Thank you for your tireless work to bless and encourage ALL to know & love our Creator. Thank you too for supplying helpful tools to engage even our smallest seekers/worshippers. We stand shoulder to shoulder with you at headquarters as you continue to listen to God’s direction & obey.

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  11. Thank you so much for these tips. It is very helpful for the children to understand that we all need God’s help. My daughter in Level 3 once asked how people can be so mean! It’s good to emphasize that we all need God’s help, This may encourage them further to tell others of God’s love.

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  12. Thank you for these very helpful and practical tips. I love the way Dana encourages questions to ask our children, just as God asked questions. Asking questions AND being a good listener, can lead us to understand what our children are thinking and where their hearts are leading.

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    • Hi Sarah, definitely agree! As a mom to little ones with plenty of questions I love these tips.

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  13. Thank you for such timely needed advice. Continue to share please.

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  14. So timely…. great advice. CS & a mom of an almost 13 year old.

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  15. very very helpful. thank u!

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  16. Thank you so much, it is very useful for us to use with the children at SP.

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  17. I find this to be a very helpful guide and no doubt, a veritable tool to forestall some of the pitfalls we may have assumed to be ‘good’ response to innocent questions.

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  18. Thank you so much for this timely blog, Dana. Will share with CS and CLs so that they are more equipped to tackle the hard questions head on.

    Pls keep these blogs coming! They are relevant, of bite size and easy to digest.

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  19. Great blog article. Thanks for your insightful, sensitive, and helpful article.

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  20. My granddaughter wants so much information…ask so many questions, we want to keep it simple for this little one to understand, maybe they will fully understand. I always give them the basic understanding of love, respect and Joy ….. to know Jesus!

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  21. This would be great if adults could validate each other during discussion in these ways also.
    I appreciated this blog. Insightful!!

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  22. Dana,
    Thank you for this information it was helpful.

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  23. Thank you so much for this information. I am a Children’s teacher. They will certainly ask questions. Thanks for the directness to answer the hard questions.

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  24. Thank you for posting this blog! It will be very helpful for leading children and students of all ages, and for responding and guiding discussion between adult groups also!

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    • Thank you so much with this materials it will help me in many ways I teach level 3

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  25. Thank you so much for this message. My son is almost 7 and asking me difficult questions. As the only believer in our family of anti Christians, I have a pressure I know I can only give to God.

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    • Thank you for this framework/approach! It’s going to be very helpful as we study Genesis which as you have noted has a number of challenging topics! God bless you!

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  26. Good advice!
    ~a grandparent

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  27. Thank you for this guidance. The topics planned may be difficult to address. I will be praying that the Holy Spirit gives me help to respond to difficult discussion. I teach the school age level 3 children.

    Reply

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