Recently I was having a parent meeting when a parent raised her hand and asked, “What do I do when my child asks a question I don’t have an answer to?” This is a common question I get from parents and volunteers alike. There are a few ways to go about answering questions such as this. Here are some insights:
Admit You Don’t Know
Be honest. If you don’t know an answer to a deep theological question that a seven year old asks, have no shame and be honest. There are two reasons that we need to be honest; 1) we do not want to give the wrong answers, and 2) if we give the wrong answer, we do not want to establish distrust with our child. Admitting you don’t know is a healthy thing and will not ruin your superstar parent status with your child. Just say “Let’s find out together.”
Let’s Find Out Together
This simple statement will not only build a better relationship with your child, because you are working together, but you will also (hopefully) discover an answer to your question. Try to stay away from unknown sources, like the Internet (unless it’s a trustworthy site). Seek out pastors or volunteers in your ministry that could answer your child’s question but can also produce an answer that is age appropriate.
Keep Answers Age Appropriate
Unless your child is in their teens, many kids are concrete thinkers. This means they are not yet analytical or critical thinkers. They are still in the process of developing these skills. For that reason you want to share answers that are language appropriate as well as thought appropriate. Injecting new vocabulary or logic beyond their capacity can lead to confusion and misunderstanding. Give answers elementary level answers. I’m not saying simplify or sugar coat, just concentrate your answers on known concepts of faith.
Be excited that your kids are asking questions about their faith! It shows that they have some interest in knowing who or what God is all about. As a child they are living in a world of discovery. The fact that they are focusing on matters of faith is a time to celebrate and encourage your child that they are doing a good thing.
Some Questions Have No Answers
At the end of the day, the truth is that we serve a mysterious God. This is not a bad thing! Many people have opinions and viewpoints on various matters of faith. Truthfully, many unanswered questions will be answered, but in God’s time and not ours. Explain to your children that it’s healthy for there to be some mystery surrounding God.