In today’s culture, kids are exposed to so much — good and bad. As parents, we want to protect our kids’ hearts and keep them away from difficult situations and topics. But, the truth is that they are likely going to be exposed to them somewhere and at some point in their life. So, isn’t it best if we create a safe place for them to talk and learn things in their own home from the people that love them the most? Wouldn’t you rather be the one to frame a tough conversation rather than someone else who might have different values? Absolutely! Kids WILL ask tough questions in life, so it’s important that we show them WHO they can feel safe coming to with the big and sometimes scary or confusing questions.
So then, when your child comes to you with a tough question or topic, what do you do? Do you feel prepared? Here are some tips on how to create a safe place for your kiddos to feel comfortable to ask tough questions:
EVALUATE THE TIME & PLACE
Sometimes children bring up difficult topics or questions at the least opportune time, like when you’re in the cash register line at the grocery store or in the carline at school drop-off. However, they have probably mustered up a lot of courage to even ask the question, so it’s important to acknowledge it in the moment and thank them for bringing it to your attention. If it’s not the right time or place, agree on when and where you will resume the conversation.
Ideally, you DO have some time to think about their question beforehand so you can find some appropriate scripture and pray to God for the right words. Get them their favorite drink or snack, and sit down in a nice quiet place where they are comfortable. Many parents find that a great place to talk is on a walk or in the car.
This is the most important part. By listening carefully, they will feel seen and heard. This will show them that you value what they are telling you, no matter what. It’s important to let them talk and say everything they want before you jump in to talk. This will teach them a very important life lesson — respect for what others have to say. Be quick to listen and slow to speak!
It’s important that no matter the topic, you stay calm and don’t overreact. You want to show empathy, not anything they can interpret as anger. Show them that you love them unconditionally, and will not judge them. Start your response with something like, “I understand what you’re saying..” or “I can see why you would feel that way…” This will show you truly empathize with them and gain their trust!
In order to keep the conversation going, be sure to ask them questions about the topic as well. This will also show them you value what they think. Things like, “How does that make you feel?” or “What do you think about it?”
POINT BACK TO GOD
When it’s your turn to express your thoughts, point the topic back to God. By asking, “What does the Bible say about that?,” you are showing that the Bible provides TRUTH and that we can direct all things in life back to the Word of God. Say “Does this agree or disagree with God’s truth?” Even if you don’t know for sure, you can do research and come back to them with some appropriate scripture.
End every difficult conversation with prayer with your child. Thank the Lord for giving them the courage to come to you and for speaking their mind. Ask the Lord to bless the conversation and any future conversations. Pray for those that might be impacted, the solution, or decision that needs to be made.
HOW we respond to our children will help dictate whether they view us as a safe place or not. By creating a safe place for them to have open discussions, they learn the important life lesson of how to share their questions and their feelings. The more you do this with them, the more comfortable they will be coming to you in any situation, no matter their age.
Unfortunately, the reality is that many kids don’t have a safe place to ask tough questions, especially spiritual ones. That’s why we believe that our Small Group Leaders play an integral role in our Bible2School programs. Every week, children have the opportunity to talk to their leader in a safe space. And, they get to learn about God’s TRUTH which is the answer to all of life’s difficult questions and topics. God provided us with the ultimate instruction book for our life, the Word of God, so it’s important we show children HOW to use it!
For more information on how to have difficult conversations with kids, listen to our podcast episode: How to Have Hard Conversations With Kids.
RELEVANT BIBLE VERSES
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
– James 1:19–20
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
– Colossians 4:6