It starts like an ordinary day. The morning routine is met with the usual resistance. (We do this Every Morning. Why are the kids always so surprised?) Milk is spilled on the counter. Somebody leaves something back at the house and we have to dash back to get it. Everyday chatter fills the air.
You know–ordinary day stuff. Apart from running perpetually 10 minutes behind, things seem to be going as planned.
And then, quietly from the back seat…
“Mom, why does God let people die?”
There it is. One of those zingers the kids drop without any warning. You’ve heard them before–the puzzling, mystifying, challenging questions about life and God that leave us parents totally flummoxed.
Innocent, inquisitive eyes stare up at us.
Silently our thoughts are racing:
• I don’t know the answer to this!
• What if I answer wrong?
• What if I sound really stupid?
• What if my answer makes God sound bad?
• I don’t have time to answer something this deep.
• Sheesh, give me a break, kid. Even Google can’t answer this question!
And so on.
Let’s be real: these questions are HARD. For many of us, the instinct to deflect or delay our answer is strong. But before you dodge the questions, consider this:
Studies show that only 1 out of every 8 kids talks to their mom about faith, and only 1 out of every 25 kids talks to their dad. Unsurprisingly these same studies show that the kids who are talking together with their parents experience more life-long faith than those who aren’t talking.
If faith is one of the most important things in life (we know you agree that it is), than let’s make sure we’re talking about it with our kids. Even when it’s hard.
One key to making these conversations easier is to make faith a natural part of your everyday family life. Here are 3 ideas for how to do that:
3 Ideas For Making Faith A More Natural Part Of Your Everyday Family Life (and feel more confident when your kid zings you with tricky faith questions)
1. First, as parents we have to model faith. If you’re suddenly picturing someone who can quote the Bible from memory, who prays constantly, and sings in the hills wearing a nun’s habit (a la The Sound of Music), RELAX–faith isn’t always Easy, but it can be Simple.
You don’t need to come off like a pastor to your kids. You just need to show them the simple ways you’re practicing your faith. For example, let them see you pray. Let them see you read the Bible. Talk about Jesus. Talk to Jesus, out loud, around them. No singing or nun’s habits required.
2. Second, readjust your expectations of what “making faith a natural part of your everyday” looks like. In other words, you don’t have to be perfect (see note above about the nun’s habit). You aren’t expected to know all of the answers, and doubts are okay. For example, “I have no idea why God lets people die, and death is scary to me, but I try to trust God and what the Bible says about heaven” is a perfectly acceptable answer for why God lets people die.
Your kids don’t need the appearance of perfection; much of the time they don’t even need “the right answer.” What they need is authenticity, especially from you.
3. Third, have fun! Nothing makes faith seem more out-of-place and awkward than when it feels forced, contrived, or boring. After 40 years in ministry, we’ve learned that uncomfortable, scripted sermons or trite, cheeseball lessons are a drag for everyone. When you make faith interactive, interesting and imaginative, however, the truths from the Bible really stick. This is why we invented funny Buddies and creative activities for our family Buddy Boxes and VBS programs. Because we know that kids who have fun with faith when they’re young experience rich relationships with Jesus as they get older.
So brainstorm creative ways to retell Bible stories, look for inspiration in the natural world around you, tap into your child’s interests, and have fun!
How does your family make faith a natural part of everyday life? Share your tips, suggestions, and creative ideas below.
This post originally appeared at Lifetree Family.