The Childhood Spiritual Formation Toolbox is a production of Central United Methodist Church Traverse City, in conjunction with the Michigan Conference of The United Methodist Church and the Northern Waters District.
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Kids Ask Hard Questions Toolbox
There are so many kinds of hard questions. Sometimes it’s just something that a grown-up doesn’t know how to answer. It could be a topic that is emotionally or politically charged. It could be a sensitive faith topic. It could relate to one’s life or be something a child heard somewhere. Hard questions may range from a simple “Why?” to “Is God real?” to “Why did my pet die?” One of the ways that churches can support parents/caregivers is to be places where all questions can be asked – even, perhaps especially, the hard ones. A place where it’s okay to say: “I don’t know” or “That’s a great question, let’s find out together.” This toolbox includes ideas, links, and resources for young people, grown ups who care for them, and congregations.
- Parenting: Difficult Conversations from NPR
- What to Say When Kids Ask Hard Questions by Karen Young
- What do I say when my kids ask hard questions about God? from Fuller Youth Institute
- When Kids Ask (Really) Tough Questions: A Quick Guide from NPR
You got this! You are enough!
- It’s ok to say, “I don’t know” or “Let’s find out together”
- Use the library or a search engine to investigate answers together
- You know your child better than anyone! Give yourself credit and grace for doing the best you can!
- Watch a movie or TV show or YouTube video that is age appropriate and addresses a tough question/topic – talk about it together. Use open ended questions like:
- What was your favorite part?
- What did a character learn?
- What did you learn?
- What questions do you have?
- Here’s a list of movies that deal with serious issues
- Go for a walk or car ride – sometimes when you are next to someone and not looking face to face it is easier to have a tough conversation.
- Create a culture where asking questions is not only acceptable, but expected.
- Remember that adults ask hard questions too. Honor the questions.
- Leave space for the unknown. There aren’t always answers to hard questions.
- Hold space for silence. Sometimes we need to sit and think about hard questions before responding.
Supporting Parents & Caregivers
- Ask hard questions and ask a few people from the congregation to provide reflections on them (including young people).
- Responding to hard questions well requires trust and relationship. Nurture healthy relationships.
- Learn from one another. Remember that grown-ups don’t always have the answer. It may be more important to listen to the question than offer a quick response.
Building Connections to Home
- Offer a “question of the week” for families to talk about so they can nurture question asking and listening.
- Sometimes there are answers to hard questions – provide resources in a lending library or website with frequently asked questions.
- Many hard questions are connected to emotions, world events, grief, and loss. Build a children’s library with books and resources for managing emotions and coping with hard things.
- Digital faith formation playlists may also be helpful in responding to some hard questions