5 Common Answers to Kids’ Questions about God That Can Do More Harm Than Good

By Natasha Crain

A couple of years ago, my husband and I were invited to a dinner party with a few other new parents from our kids’ Christian elementary school. After we worked our way through appetizers and the requisite small talk, the conversation turned to our respective faith backgrounds. One of the moms confessed that, as much as she loved the Lord, she struggled with how to share her faith with her son—so she had enrolled him at a Christian school where others might be able to do a “better job.”

Another mom replied, “Well, I don’t worry too much about it. I just tell my daughter that believing in God is like believing in Santa Claus. Some people believe, and some don’t. It’s a matter of faith.”

I glanced over at the mom who said that, ready to laugh with her at the idea of placing God and Santa in the same category.

But she wasn’t laughing.

She had just matter-of-factly shared what she honestly thought was a helpful way of explaining belief in God’s existence to her daughter.

Now, if an atheist had overheard this dinner party conversation, he or she would have delighted in my friend’s comparison of God and Santa because that’s precisely how atheists want us to think . . .

  • God and Santa: two entities with no evidence to demonstrate their existence.

  • God and Santa: childish beliefs people should outgrow once theyunderstandthere’s no evidence to demonstrate their existence.

Without realizing it, this mom was playing right into the hands of atheists. She was talking about God in a way that could actually damage her daughter’s faith eventually, given the types of challenges she’s likely to encounter.

As Christian parents, it’s critical that we understand our job isn’t to just talk about God in any way we can.

How we talk about God matters.

% Common Answers Kids God

I was reminded of this fact—and my God vs. Santa experience—when I joined a Christian parenting Facebook group recently. Within a couple of days, I saw someone post that her 12-year-old son was suddenly struggling to believe in God and was asking his mom how we know God exists. She asked the group what she should tell him.

Dozens of parents chimed in, but almost all of the answers offered were in the “God and Santa” category—answers that can actually do more harm than good. It was really disheartening.

So today I want to share five kinds of responses I saw—and see often—that we should avoid when our kids ask questions about God’s existence.

5 Answers That Can Do More Harm Than Good

  1. (Just) have more faith.

I don’t know if any word today is more misused than “faith.” For example, several people replied something to the effect of, “It just takes faith. Tell him this is what faith is all about.”

This answer implies that even when we don’t think God exists, we just need to somehow summon up enough “faith” (sheer force of will?) to hold on to our beliefs. But that’s not what biblical faith is all about. Biblical faith is trusting in what we have good reason to believe is true—not committing ourselves ever more strongly to a blind leap in the dark with no rational basis.

When we understand that, we can see why it doesn’t make sense to answer a child’s question about God’s existence by telling him or her to just have more faith. Faith comes from the conviction that something or someone isworth trusting. The answer, therefore, isn’t to tell kids to focus on theoutcome of conviction—it’s to increase their conviction by giving them solid reasons to believe God exists.

  1. (Just) pray.

Many people said that the mom should start praying fervently for her son and tell him he needs to pray as well. I would say that too.

But it should be clear from every part of the Bible that we must pray andtake earthly action. Noah didn’t just pray to be saved from the flood; he built an ark. Joshua didn’t just pray to conquer the Canaanites; he marched around Jericho. Paul didn’t just pray that the gentile world would come to know Jesus; he spent the rest of his life on missionary journeys.

So, yes, pray. But don’t stop there. Kids need to learn why there’s good reason to believe there’s actually a God to pray to.

  1. That’s (just) the enemy attacking you.

I’ll never forget reading a detailed “About Me” page written by a young man who grew up in a Christian family but eventually lost his faith…and became a vocal atheist. Over and over, he came back to the fact that his family and church didn’t answer the specific questions he had. Instead, they continually reiterated that he was under attack from the enemy and he just needed to mentally fight against his doubts. For a long time, his faith hung on by a thread; he no longer believed in God but told himself that it was only Satan making him think that way. Eventually he gave up and let go of the thread.

As with the first two points, there is certainly truth to the reality of spiritual warfare. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” People were quick to point this out to the mom on Facebook.

But the fact that someone may be under spiritual attack doesn’t lessen the need to offer them specific answers to their questions. Offering those answers—in this case, the evidence for God’s existence—actually grounds them in the truth that allows them to withstand spiritual attack.

  1. General restatements of Christian belief that don’t address the question asked.

Several of the Facebook responses said something like, “Remind him [the child] that God loves him and Jesus died for him.” Well, yes, God does love him and Jesus did die for him. It certainly never hurts to remind anyone of that. But if a child is asking how we even know God exists in the first place, this kind of statement is unlikely to help him or her through a spiritual crisis.

  1. Silence.

Another suggestion was to just be patient, as this is a “phase” many kids go through. Silence, however, says so much. To a child doubting God’s existence, it says, “I don’t have good answers for your questions so I’ll just be over here in the corner waiting this whole thing out.” And if mom and dad don’t have good answers, kids are unlikely to assume good answers exist elsewhere. Silence is not golden.

Need Help with Better Answers?

Parents, questions of God’s existence are foundational to our kids’ faith. We have to get these conversations right, particularly in a world that challenges the fact of God’s existence each and every day.

That’s exactly why I wrote my new book, Talking with Your Kids about God: 30 Conversations Every Christian Parent Must Have. I wanted to help parents not just talk with their kids about God, but do so in the ways most needed by kids growing up in a secular world. In the book, you’ll find five sections that will prepare you to discuss how we know God is real and what we can know about Him from many different angles (check out the full table of contents here):

  • The Existence of God
  • Science and God
  • The Nature of God
  • Believing in God
  • The Difference God Makes

Every chapter even has a step-by-step conversation guide. If this looks like a valuable resource for your family, church, or school, please take a minute to pre-order it now at christianbook.combn.com, or amazon.com. It comes out in just a few weeks, and your early support encourages retailers to stock it!


Let’s work together to give our kids the answers they deserve. We don’t want anyone ever to grow up thinking there’s no more evidence for God than there is for Santa.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge” (Psalm 19:1-2).

Original Blog Source: http://bit.ly/2eIJXF2


 

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13 replies
  1. Susan says:

    Natasha look at your quote:

    “Another mom replied, “Well, I don’t worry too much about it. I just tell my daughter that believing in God is like believing in Santa Claus. Some people believe, and some don’t. It’s a matter of faith.”

    I think you might be mistaken about this person’s belief status. This most likely wasn’t a believer speaking no matter who’s social event you were attending. Atheists sometimes marry or intermix with believers and might even pretend to be believers if they are in a relationship with a believer.

    70 percent of atheists are men so that leaves a high percentage of them without a likeminded significant other.

    So, of course, there are going to be unbelievers hanging around believers. I even know the son of a pastor who married a girl he thought was a Christian only to have her “officially” convert and get baptized to Christianity later after the marriage.

    And I witnessed another atheist complaining online about having to accompany his believing spouse to church on Sundays.

    I never believed in Santa Claus. Even as a little girl. I liked the pictures of Santa with his rosy cheeks but I knew the presents weren’t from him.

    I have never known a believer to compare God to Santa. The only people I ever saw make such a comparison were all atheists and I saw dozens of them do it online but not one Christian.

    I am not saying it couldn’t happen but the probability of that person comparing God to Santa and still being a Christian is extremely low to almost non-existent in my estimation.

    Kids need to know they are loved more than they need intellectual questions answered.

    The more love your kid receives the more secure he will grow up to be.

    Doubt expressed intellectually can be a sign of insecurity.

    Why even worry so much about questions. Just demonstrate unshakeable confidence in your own belief that God loves you. Confidence is more eloquent and powerful sometimes
    than any answer we communicate.

    Insecure people like to communicate their doubts and fears too others sometimes to gain an advantage over them but why even open that door.

    Keep that door shut before it even opens. Why does everyone always act like we have to open Pandora’s box to prove something. We don’t.

    People of faith really don’t have to prove anything intellectually to anybody. Jesus did everything for us through his work on the Cross.

    So just point to his finished work and let kids know. No one has ever done more for you ever than Jesus did for you personally on the Cross. So don’t let the doubters and people with issues communicate their doubts and mixed up messages to you.

    You have to be a strong believer before you can help save anybody.

    Just like a life guard has to be a strong swimmer.

    Don’t let the people flailing around drag the kids down with their confusion.

    What Jesus did for everyone is an unmistakeable act of love. No ifs, ands or buts about it.

    I wouldn’t allow my kid to doubt God loves them. It could make them insecure and insecure people dump all over everybody.

    Sometimes some of the most intelligent people are the most insecure. Don’t know why that is but it probably is partially due to poor parenting and a lack of good role modeling.

    Monkey see. Monkey do.

    So demonstrate confidence. Jesus loves everyone all the time whatever their circumstance and he proved it on the Cross. His work is finished and no one raising a fuss will ever be able to take away what he did for the kids and the entire world.

    Praise Be To God!

    Reply
    • Michelle says:

      Oh my goodness. You said, “I wouldn’t allow my children to doubt God loves them.” However, I hate to break it to you, but you cannot dictate your childs’s thoughts, emotions, or doubts. You dont have that power. Also try to think about…should you try to mandate your children’s relationship with God, then how is it truly theirs? They need to come to their own understanding and acceptance of God that they can own as their own and not just inherit from you. There’s no way we can parent our children to never doubt.

      Reply
      • Susan says:

        I choose not to argue with you Michelle.

        Our thought lives are important. We build our inner world on them and that manifests outwardly into the outer world in the actions we take.

        Parenting and role modeling is important.

        If you don’t role model effectively then your children are living more directionless in this world and are possibly more susceptible to evil peer pressures.

        But the experts say that children need structure just like God does. He said it a long time ago. ” Train up your child in the way he should go” and that involves thinking in the right way and approaches to life. Lots of people are caught up into negative thinking patterns today that is why their is a field called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy around today.

        That is one of the reasons why drugs, divorce and homelessness and other social evils are getting more widespread throughout the world. Because of the communication of negative ideas and impulses to people.

        How does a sophisticated technological society exist next to homelessness and poverty and despair in this day and age?

        But it does and it all starts with what we choose to meditate on regularly and build our lives around.

        We could have all listened to God but some people didn’t. Did they let their own cares, negative inner voices, etc. drown out God’s voice?

        Reply
        • Johnathan Smith says:

          Susan, while I appreciate that raw belief that doesn’t yield once held is powerful, it’s also not a guarantee that anyone’s heart won’t have a doubt at some point. Even if no doubt could enter when we’re encouraged to not allow it, we still need to know how to address these doubts when raised by non-believers. For Christ was the pioneer and perfector of our Faith, standing as our High Priest before the Father. And he became human so he could empathize with our weaknesses, including our doubts. Also, I had a friend confide in me that his mother, a pastor, had never addressed the doubts he had when he was 10ish, and he lost Faith because of it. I beg of you, emulate Christ, and be ready and open enough to help your child through any weakness and obstacle they face to their faith with patience and love.

          Reply
          • Susan Tan says:

            I am ready. But you missed the point. The point is to stop doubting. You don’t have to entertain everyone’s doubts.

            They can try and figure out why you are so sure.

            There is no burden on a believer to prove anything to anybody.

            Christ did it all and His work is a FINISHED WORK.

            Doubting just opens the door to ignoring that as the fact that it is.

            Instead of entertaining other people’s doubts. Exhort them to get real with God and start working on building their own relationship with Him.

            Throw the doubt out and be done with it.

            How do you build a relatiionship on a doubt?

            You don’t. You build it on the secure foundation of trust i.e. faith.

            If doubt is a weak substance that will undermine your relationship with God then dismiss it.
            Teach yourself to dismiss it and throw it out.

            Then you can teach others to do that.

            God isn’t playing mind games with people.

            He says plainly right here in the CEV:

            Adam and Christ
            12 Adam sinned, and that sin brought death into the world. Now everyone has sinned, and so everyone must die. 13 Sin was in the world before the Law came. But no record of sin was kept, because there was no Law. 14 Yet death still had power over all who lived from the time of Adam to the time of Moses. This happened, though not everyone disobeyed a direct command from God, as Adam did.

            In some ways Adam is like Christ who came later. 15 But the gift that God was kind enough to give was very different from Adam’s sin. That one sin brought death to many others. Yet in an even greater way, Jesus Christ alone brought God’s gift of kindness to many people.

            16 There is a lot of difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gift. That one sin led to punishment. But God’s gift made it possible for us to be acceptable to him, even though we have sinned many times. 17 Death ruled like a king because Adam had sinned. But that cannot compare with what Jesus Christ has done. God has been so kind to us, and he has accepted us because of Jesus. And so we will live and rule like kings.

            18 Everyone was going to be punished because Adam sinned. But because of the good thing that Christ has done, God accepts us and gives us the gift of life. 19 Adam disobeyed God and caused many others to be sinners. But Jesus obeyed him and will make many people acceptable to God.

            20 The Law came, so that the full power of sin could be seen. Yet where sin was powerful, God’s kindness was even more powerful. 21 Sin ruled by means of death. But God’s kindness now rules, and God has accepted us because of Jesus Christ our Lord. This means that we will have eternal life.

            When people doubt they are allowing themselves to block God’s work in their lives. But why would a person block God’s work?

            It makes no sense. If you don’t know what you are doing in the spiritual realm. Then God does. So get out of His way and let Him go to work.

            It is that simple but we like to doubt and over complicate things.

            Do younwant your spiritual house which is your temple which is your inner being built up or not?

            If you don’t then leave.

            You made your choice.

            Just make sure everything God has promised has been assessed first.

            All we have to do is deliver a message right.

            If someone else has mixed motives and or refuses to follow God’s thinking to serve their own purposes then how can I control that?

            I might dissuade them with words and ideas but still my firm example is best.

            How do you refute a whole life?

            Study Christ. Nobody refutes or tops his life.

            So why allow the doubters to even get started?

            They need to start all over again.

            They’rr wrong in their thinking. I’m not.

            Because I am trying to follow God’s thinking and He’s error free.

            Hope this helps everyone reading.

            God Bless!

            Jesus IS our eternal security. And I am not doubting a finished work for anybody any more.
            I don’t accomodate doubts. Jesus didn’t say accomodate doubt. He told us to take authority over doubt and demolish it.

  2. Eric Breaux says:

    I posted this in another article but this seems like another topic where this would be appropriate. I don’t know what the policy here is for posting the same thing multiple places.
    I’m a Christian but have a sincere question about God. How is it possible for him to do anything if he’s timeless? for anything to happen requires time so it can start continue and end, so how does he do anything not experiencing the time required for what he’s doing? Since there can be nothing before time how would the act of creation be possible without it, since that’s an event? How can he be anywhere if he’s space less? Isn’t a form necessary to even exist? How could you have any substance or attribute without space that is required to have a form? And he’s omniscient, so how can he have infinite knowledge of, and eternally transcend, what there can only be a limited amount of? He made us and what we’ll experience to last eternity, so how does his infinite knowledge not make it so that time would already have to be infinite to him for him to know and transcend everything? Time is limited, that’s why it can always continue’ like with math.

    Reply
    • jcb says:

      That’s a good question. Another good one is: why would we think in the first place that we know of a timeless being? The simpler answer: there is no “timeless” being that we know of.

      Reply
      • Susan says:

        As a skeptic you have a strongly developed tendency to overly reverse every question and deconstruct things and probably too strong a belief in your own intellect.

        That’s one of the main reasons why unbelievers can never win the war though it might look like you did by causing confusion or winning a few arguments/intellectual battles.

        In the end nobody’s intellect is greater than God’s.

        All science is really doing is attempting to explain in material terms everything God did.

        Don’t fool yourself into thinking unbelief is right because you make longer and longer rationalizations from a materialistic point of view.

        If you want to fairly deconstruct everything. Start with yourself. There is always someone smarter than me or who knows something more than I do and frequently uses that knowledge better. So I have to be humble and admit that as well as admit I am not smarter than God.

        If you keep going along that route finding people mentally smarter and smarter than you then God is at the top of the chain.

        No one is going to top God no matter how long and how hard you try to reduce everything to humanistic or materialistic terms.

        There is a timeless being and we know it because he introduced Himself. In the Old Testament and in the person of Jesus Christ.

        So the whole world got a look more than once.

        In fact, God witnessed of Himself multiple times and the Bible is God giving testimony and witness of Himself along with multiple eyewitnesses as evidence.

        You are just too busy deconstructing God’s case to master the fine details of His case.

        Start with learning humility and acknowledging you are not smarter than everyone.

        Then maybe you can start to get in the frame of mind to receive God’s enlightenment.

        Right now you are using man made concepts to block His godly ones and He knows it.

        Repent and let God get personal with you now.

        Imagine how interesting it would be to have an encounter with God.

        Could anything in this life be better than such an encounter?

        Like I said right now you are mentally focusing on blocking out God’s light.

        It’s up to you to pray for more enlightenment from God and be open minded to the experience.

        You are not an exception to the human race. God can touch anyone He wants to.

        But right now you are siding with all the malcontents dodging that encounter with God.

        It’s easy to argue against something if you don’t want it.

        So you’re going to have to start to examine yourself and ask yourself what is motivating you to persist in intellectual mind games that make you block God.

        If you were really open to Him wouldn’t He make a way for you to receive your faith?

        You can do science and be a believer y’ know. They are not mutually exclusive. A lot depends on personal perspective and viewpoint though.

        Do you really want to limit yourself to a man made perspective? That’s what science and philosophy are. Man made perspectives.

        Or do you want to submit and learn God’s perspective.

        You can learn both but for some reason you don’t want to learn God’s.

        We all have issues. But some turn and face them and deal with them and some bury them in their past and subconscious then rationalize them away.

        Have you done that with God?

        God said He loves the whole world and aren’t youna part of the world JCB?

        So why do you have a problem with that.

        Meditate on that and read Psalm 1 until more sinks into your heart.

        People are made for a relationship with God but not all people have an easy time trusting and having a relationship with Him.

        May His Grace Abound To You!

        Reply
        • Eric Breaux says:

          I did make a point in my comment that I am a christian. I asked these things because I am legitimately curious and concerned about them. You seem to think I’m an atheist or agnostic.

          Reply
    • Austin Larger says:

      Hello, I’d like to help and address some misunderstandings. To be timeless, spaceless or immaterial doesn’t mean one lacks time, space, or material. It simply means they aren’t limited by time, space, or material. What you seem to be getting at hits closely at the cosmological argument for a god. In which case, you’re at the perfect website as that’s a strong point of Frank’s.
      As pointed out in another article: In order for the universe to come into being, the cause of the universe must be beyond the universe, beyond space and time. And therefore cannot be a material, spatial, or temporal type of thing. Whatever caused the universe to come into being must be a spaceless, immaterial, uncaused, powerful, personal Creator.
      He then goes into these points which I highly encourage you to do a well. The personal Creator portion is what allows the argument to reason the existence of the Christian God, by the way.
      As a possibly helpful illustration, I like to imagine a 3D ball resting on a “2D” sheet of paper. The 3D ball clearly has length and width but isn’t limited by them. It rests on top of the paper because it occupies the 3rd dimension height. The “2D” sheet of paper doesn’t have access to, and may not even be aware of, the 3rd dimension. If the ball started phasing through the sheet of paper it’d seem to have come from nowhere, but was there the whole time only microns away. It’d appear as a circle that grew bigger, then smaller (cross sections) from a 3D perspective or a line that that appeared, grew longer, then shorter from a 2D perspective. Please watch “Imagining the 10th Dimension” if you’re interested in more on this concept/imagery.
      In the same way, a supposed god who is not limited to material, space, and time logically exists in a higher dimension. The Christian God can still interact with lower dimensions, albeit what we perceive will be only a slice of his true self. So, can He possibly do anything if He’s timeless? Yes, He can reach out and create in time and space. Where can he be, what is his form if He’s spaceless? He can exist in a higher dimension just beyond our own, “microns” away for all we know, and his full form is beyond our conception. Lastly, I would have liked to address your last three sentences but, unfortunately, they weren’t very clear. I apologize.
      With all that He is, has done, and has promised to do, God certainly is amazing right!? I hope this has helped some! I’m sure it’s not perfect but will pray on God’s promise to reward you seeking him.

      Reply
  3. Johnathan Smith says:

    Then I’ll address the last three sentences. First Omniscience doesn’t describe infinite knowledge, but rather is used to describe knowing as God knows: with unerring wisdom, perfect perception, and without limitation to being confined to time and space. Austin covered this third point admirably, so I’ll stick to the second and first. God perceives perfectly, seeing into the human heart and mechanizations of his creation. He understands the human condition, from the difficulty of not swearing when you stub a toe in the dark to the unfathomable feelings a man have when he falls in love for the first time, and all Humanity’s many heights, lows, and complicated facets. Moreover, knowing how the Universe functions and being understanding of what would
    culminate as the best possible future for his created Children to enter into, he can act and advise others with a all perceiving wisdom that allows him to achieve his goal of loving us and providing us with a hope for a world where we, both humanity and God, can exist in perfect harmony. Lastly, I’d encourage you to, while still asking other Christians for insights they can offer, to also approach our Father, who is no doubt eager to instruct you in every matter. Only approach with patience and humility, and be ready to be gently corrected. I’d suggest a time when you don’t have any hard deadlines or obligations that can’t wait until tomorrow, because it may take a while before you are peaceful enough to be able to listen to him. Hope this helps!

    Reply

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