When your child asks you a spiritual question, the way you answer will depend on your own beliefs...
In Deuteronomy 6:7, after delivering the 10 commandments, God spoke to the people saying: “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise”.
When your child asks you a spiritual question, the way you answer will depend on your own beliefs, how you feel about your own spirituality – or spirituality in general. Consider these ideas for when your child asks life’s tough questions:
- Reflect on your views of spirituality. For some people, spirituality and religion are linked, but not for everyone. Think about where you stand—and why.
- Be open to the topic of spirituality. Children are more likely to ask you about spirituality if they sense that you’re willing to talk about it.
- Young children ask a lot of big questions: Why is the sky blue? Where does God live? If God created everything, who created God? You don’t have to know the answers to these questions to hold a spiritual conversation with your child. Often, when a young child asks a question, he or she wants to talk about the subject—not get an answer. Ask, “What do you think?”
- Sometimes there are questions that only have answers from a person’s beliefs. Briefly and simply tell your child what you believe and why.
- Children will often ask questions about topics that are new to them, such as seeing a person wearing a yarmulke. They may ask why someone wears a crucifix or a burqa. If you don’t know, find out together.
- Young children are concrete thinkers. They will literally believe that God lives in a church because that may be the only place where the subject is discussed. If spirituality is important to you, find symbols from your tradition that are appropriate for your child.
- Include children in religious rituals that are important to your family. Talk about why these are important to your family.
- Your child may be invited to a religious ceremony. See if you can attend too so you can prepare together by learning what is involved.
- Older children can have doubts about spirituality and religion, particularly when bad things happen in the world. Find ways you can approach this questioning.
- Teenagers sometimes ask difficult spiritual questions. Be open to their questions and help them understand that things may not always make sense.
- Depending on their experience, older teenagers either become more spiritual or less spiritual. Continue having conversations with them on their journey, but don’t push them too hard along a specific spiritual path.
- Continue to model your spiritual quest to your teenager. If you read spiritual books, talk about what you’re reading and why you find it interesting. If you’re involved in a church congregation, continue to attend even if you can’t convince your teenager to go. Your teenager will learn a lot from you by what you say and do.
Mr Adrian Scott