Encourage your child to ask the most irritating question
by Kevin Cauley, Pastor
Darlington Presbyterian Church
The apostle Paul encourages fathers to “not provoke your children to anger but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). This is a great reminder that parents are the primary teacher of our children. Understanding our role as teachers of our children, helps us respond in ways that encourage our children instead of tearing them down. There is a question that can test our resolve to be teachers of our children.
As a kid growing up, I was known for talking a lot. I was also known for asking a lot of questions, and even, the most irritating question of all, “Why?” I remember taking a long road trip asking my mom constantly, “Why?” Questions like, “Why are there so many different states?”, “Why have a speed limit?”, “Why can’t we fly?”, “Why can’t we have ice cream for breakfast?”, “Why did God make the sky so blue and the grass so green?” After a few days of traveling, my mom finally said, “No more questions until we get home!”
As a parent, I understand better her frustrations. I’ve experienced those same frustrations with my children. However, I’ve also learned that our children’s questions are important. Even the most irritating question in the world they ask, “Why?” Actually, encourage your children to ask this question more often!
Why encourage our children to ask this question? First, asking this question encourages our children to be curious about our world. Curiosity is key to being a lifelong student. As a child looks at a bicycle and wonders how it is put together, the child’s understanding of basic mechanics begins. As parents, we might not appreciate what we find when we get home – a disassembled bike. In fact, we might lose our temper. But before we let irritation get the best of us, pause and consider the shared learning opportunity.
Another reason our children need to ask, “Why?”, is to keep our own mind sharp and to strengthen our own faith. When a child asks, “Why do you believe God speaks in the Bible?” Your answer may not only be significant to your child’s faith, but it’s also even more significant to your own faith’s ability to shape your life. It encourages us to be more curious about the Christian faith, and we learn as we seek the answers.
One reason we get irritated with our children asking why is because often we don’t know the answer. It’s okay for our children to know we don’t have all the answers. Instead of irritation, maybe it’s better to say let me think about it so we can figure it out together. If I were to answer the question about the Bible, I’d want to think carefully about how the Bible has impacted my life, what the Bible is, and why the Church has believed God speaks to us in the Bible.
Based on my own experience as a child, I wish I had done this better as a parent. I wish I had savored those “Why” questions and explored the answers with my children. Our world demands that we believe something because some authority tells us. This is dangerous to our society and our families.
If you feel uncomfortable talking with your children about “faith questions”, I encourage you to listen to the Podcast “Worldview Legacy” from the Think Institute. While I don’t always agree, I wish I had had this resource as a young parent. This resource helps me to think through faith questions, and also helps me to know questions children ask. For example, are there dinosaurs in the Bible? What kid doesn’t love talking about dinosaurs? It’s fun for us as adults to consider it as well, and even more fun with our children. Check it out!
Encourage your children to ask the most irritating question in the world, “Why?”