Imagine yourself seated at a table, working to complete a task while someone pummels you with question after question about your knowledge of the world, your experience, your personal story, even the meaning of life. It could be a job interview, or a police interrogation, or, more likely, you’re the parent of a toddler.
As adults, we often tire of questions. Unless they give us some basic information that’s needed right now (where is the nearest all-night pharmacy?), we’d prefer to reserve our mental energy for things other than frivolous wondering. And, we prefer questions to which we know the answers, or have reasonably good resources in which to find the answers.
Toddlers have a completely different view on questions. For the first 18 months they could learn only through their senses. But with the great gift of words comes the power of questions! Now they can learn through what others around them have experienced. Their world opens up and the questions just keep coming. And, until they can read, the adults around them become their “books” – their source of knowledge of all things outside of their own experience.
Most parents want to share their experiences of many things, yet many dread the questions about faith and God. In the midst of those simple childhood questions, we realize we still have questions of our own, unanswered and unsettling, about the God that we claim to love and know so well. For many, that realization makes us wonder if we are as faithful as we ought to be.
Thankfully, we have a God of grace that continually invites us into deeper relationship through prayer, Scripture, and community conversation. By asking these questions, your child is begging you to introduce him or her to this relationship; what a privilege!
As you enter into this time of wonder and excitement with your children, allow their questions to re-ignite your own curiosity of God’s amazing creation and being. Children ask questions that we can’t answer; this is a beautiful opportunity to wonder along with them, sharing your thoughts and questions.
Throughout the Bible, people asked many questions about and of God; their questions showed a desire to know God more deeply and be reassured that God loves us in return. When we show our children that questions are good and faithful, a way that we actively seek to know God, we invite them into a lifelong relationship that never grows stale with pat answers or a completely predictable God.
What questions have your children asked you about God and faith? How did you respond. Use the comment box below to join the conversation.
For helpful responses to some of the God questions you might get from young ones, check out Faith Basics from the side menu. Also, take a look at the “Learning About Faith” activities for Young Family and Adult/Couple (top menu).
Dawn Alitz is a mother, wife, theologian, scholar, ministry practitioner, college professor, and musician. On any given day she fulfills those roles in various ways.