Parenting Your Child’s Mind.

Lynette Olfert Articles, Parents 6 Comments

“Mom, Dad, is it true?”  

Such an important question.

Are we as parents prepared to respond?

Questions like these demonstrate how valuable apologetics is to the family. Apologetics is the Christian discipline of giving an answer for what you believe and is a powerful tool to address obstacles to faith that may come along our children’s path. Thriving Family magazine writes,

“In a recent National Study of Youth and Religion, thousands of nonreligious teenagers said they were raised to be “religious” but now describe themselves as “nonreligious”. These teenagers were asked ‘Why did you fall away from the faith in which you were raised?’ The most common answer, given by 32 percent of the respondents, was intellectual skepticism.”[1]

Kids are looking for thoughtful answers to some key questions.

 

How will I as a parent, respond when

my child reaches the point of questioning

the faith they have grown up with?

 

Although I recognize that asking these types of questions is a healthy step in owning one’s faith, I can’t help but be a bit nervous about the process.

It is easy to assume that these topics are being covered in church by a Sunday school teacher or youth pastor but often they are not. Parents are one of the biggest influences in the faith of a child and ultimately it is our responsibility to lead our children through this phase of their faith as well.

However, faith questions can be difficult to ask and responding to them equally as challenging. Parents may be afraid of not having the answers and children may be afraid to ask them. Or, if they are asked, questions may get answered with quick, ‘Sunday School’ answers rather than being openly explored together.  David Kinnaman writes,

“A generation of young Christians believes that the churches in which they were raised are not safe and hospitable places to express doubts. Many feel that they have been offered slick or half-baked answers to their thorny, honest questions, and they are rejecting the “talking heads” and “talking points” they see among the older generations.”[2]

If faith questions go unaddressed, children may lose confidence in their faith and its intellectual authenticity. However, if children find that there are reasonable responses to the questions they have asked, they will approach further questions with confidence knowing that answers are likely to be found. We need to create an open environment in our homes for questioning and discussion.

The process of creating an environment for open dialogue begins with exploring the core, foundational aspects of our own faith. This can seem very unnatural to some to whom faith comes easily and who haven’t wrestled with ‘how can I know’ type questions. However, if we do not have answers for ourselves as to why we believe, it will be very difficult to discuss this with our children. Apologetics Canada’s DVD series titled ‘Thinking’ (www.thinkingseries.com) is an excellent resource to explore the 5 most asked questions of today:

  • What is the meaning of life?
  • Does God exist?
  • Why does God allow evil and suffering
  • Do all religions lead to God?
  • Did Jesus rise from the dead?

Rather than waiting for a crisis of faith to reach a child, we can be proactive in equipping the minds of our children.  From a young age, we can teach children how to reason logically and encourage critical thinking. We must genuinely listen to our children’s views and observe influences around them socially and in media. We can endeavor to be aware of and discuss current worldviews and arguments that our children will face. To help us in this task, there are excellent resources available to discuss the main challenges to Christianity at various age levels such as Lee Strobel’s ‘Case for Creator/Christ/Faith for kids’ series and Focus on the Family’s TrueU series for teens.

When we anticipate and prepare for the challenges to faith that will come, we will have the confidence to address our children’s questions. They, in turn, will not be limited by fear in asking them.

Over the coming months, Apologetics Canada will explore apologetics in the family in further detail, pointing to more great resources available and local events. Stay current with news and events by subscribing your email address below. 

Article By, Lynette Olfert

[1] Focus on the Family, “Equipping the Mind”, thriving family magazine.  Vol. 3, No. 2. March/April 2011, p. 37

[2] Kinnaman David and Hawkins Aly. You Lost Me Why Young Christians Are leaving Church … and Rethinking Faith. Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group, 2011.

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Comments 6

  1. I was at the Conference this weekend. Andy mentioned some resources for parents. We are parents to a two year old and four year old. What sort of resources do you have available for us?

  2. Stacy, thanks for your question and Patti for your reply! Yes, Dr. Craig’s books for children are one of the resources for parents listed on our ‘Good Reads for Parents’, recommended reading list. A link to the reading list can be found under the ‘Standing Strong Debrief’ blog on the Apologetics Canada website at: https://www.apologeticscanada.com/2013/01/29/standing-strong-recap/
    While there, if you have the time, I highly recommend listening to the audio of the Standing Strong parent seminar hosted by Apologetics Canada in January. Jim Wallace, whom you heard at the conference this past weekend, spoke specifically for parents on the need for apologetics in the family. It was an educational and inspiring evening!

  3. I’m a parent of two boys who has been actively teaching them apologetics since they were 4 and 6 (now 7 and 9). I’d love to connect with you about strategies and ideas if you’d send me an email.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Jen, thanks for connecting! I would love to hear what you have been teaching your boys for the past few years. Would you care to share some ideas here in these comments so that others can read them too?
      Our most recent intentional activity in the area of apologetics with our boys is to listen to the Adventures in Odyssey Truth Chronicles together. We aren’t through the series yet, but so far I’m impressed with the materials there. I think it would be the kind of thing we could listen to again when they are older and they would catch even more. Listening together has brought up some great topics for discussion, many times introducing new ideas. So far we’ve talked about things like a Christian worldview, truth and evolution. I pray that even if they don’t remember all the details, they will know that we can talk about these types of topics as they come across them in everyday life.
      I hope to you’ll connect again, Lynette

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