How to Get Your Kids to Ask More Questions About Their Faith

By Natasha Crain

The most popular post on my blog is one I wrote last year called, The Number One Sign Your Kids are Just Borrowing Your Faith (and Not Developing Their Own).

That post has been read by more than 80,000 people and shared almost 14,000 times. Clearly it resonated deeply with people.

So what was the sign that your kids are just “borrowing” your faith?

They rarely, if ever, ask questions about it.

Many parents wrote to me and said the post made them realize that they were doing a lot of talking about God…but their kids weren’t doing a lot of talking back.

If your kids aren’t showing much proactive interest in talking about faith, I have a very easy and effective solution to share with you today: Start a questions night.

For the last several months, our family has set aside a night each week in order to simply sit and answer any questions our kids have about faith. They absolutely love it. And I can tell you that they weren’t asking these questions before we started the questions night. They knew they could always ask us questions, but that doesn’t mean they actually did. Setting aside a special time for questions opens the doors of communication in ways that don’t necessarily happen otherwise.

These question nights have facilitated some of the most important conversations we have ever had with our kids.

Here are 9 tips to help you get started with your own!

 

1. You don’t need to know how to answer all your kids’ questions before you launch your questions night.

Whenever I mention to someone that we have a questions night, the first response is always, “I don’t think I could answer my kids’ questions!”…followed by an uncomfortable laugh. If that’s what you’re thinking as you read this, please don’t let that concern stop you from doing it! You will never know how to answer all of your kids’ questions. No matter how prepared you are, they will ask questions you’re not sure how to answer…so there’s no point in waiting.

 

2. When you don’t know an answer, there’s no need to be embarrassed…just use it as a chance to teach your kids how you find answers yourself.

I’ll never forget one of the first questions my daughter asked: Why did Jesus have to be baptized if He wasn’t a sinner?

I have to admit I had never thought about that (if you’re interested in the answer, here’s a nice quick article). I laughed and told her that was a really great question that I hadn’t even thought about. Then I showed her how we could use my study Bible to find an answer.

Here’s the thing to remember: When your kids stump you, they’re proud of themselves…not ashamed of you. Praise them for asking a great question, then use it as an opportunity to demonstrate how to find the answers together. My kids love thinking of questions so good we can’t answer. And we love it too.

 

3. Explicitly tell your kids that any question is OK.

If your kids are old enough that they may have doubts about their faith, they may not open up with those questions by default. Other kids might fear their questions are too basic and won’t want to admit they don’t understand something they feel they should. Be sure to explicitly tell your kids up front that all questions are welcome and you’ll never bedisappointed by or angry about something they want to know.

 

4. If you think your kids might need time to warm up to the idea of asking questions, have some ready to go in advance.

If you’re not sure that your kids will hit the ground running with the new questions night, pick a couple of interesting questions in advance to throw out on their behalf. That way you won’t be sitting around awkwardly staring at each other in silence. If you need some ideas, check out my list of 65 questions every Christian parent should learn how to answer.

 

5. If you have more than one child, “open the floor” to questions but make sure everyone has the chance to ask something.

When we first started doing this, we went around in a circle, having each of our kids ask a question on their turn. The good side of doing it that way is that it encourages everyone to be thinking. The bad side is (1) that it can kill the momentum of the night if one kid is not feeling particularly thoughtful (everyone will be sitting around waiting for them to come up with something), and (2) that if your kids are competitive (as mine are), they’ll spend more time thinking up a good question for their impending turn than listening to the current discussion. We found the whole night flows better when you simply let everyone throw out questions as they have them. Just make sure that if someone didn’t ask something on their own, you give them the chance to.

 

6. Don’t assume young kids don’t have big questions to ask.

For a while, it was only my twins (age 6) asking questions. My 4-year-old rolled around on the floor, seemingly bored by the more “advanced” conversation going on around her. When I asked her each time if she had a question, she gave me an embarrassed look and said, “Nooo!” She was intimidated by the questions from her older siblings.

But one night she finally spoke up and said she had a question.

“Mommy, why did God create soldiers who kill people?”

I was more than surprised that this was a question on my 4-year-old’s mind (I still don’t know where it came from).

If you have young kids, don’t assume they don’t have big questions. Kids as young as 3 or 4 can benefit from doing this! It might take time for them to speak up, but you just might be surprised how much they’re already thinking.

 

7. When your kids ask a question that the Bible doesn’t clearly answer, be honest about that and use it as a key teaching opportunity.

Quite often, I find myself answering a question with “the Bible doesn’t tell us for sure” or “the Bible doesn’t give us all of the details on that.” For example, my kids often ask questions about heaven—what it will be like, what we’ll be doing, etc. I tell them that the Bible doesn’t give us all the details, and that there are many things like that.

But I don’t like to leave it there. I think it’s an important time to teach them about the three points I described in my post, How to Handle Questions God Didn’t Answer: God’s revelation is not broken, we can trust that God has revealed all we need to know, and it should be our life’s work to understand the answers He has given us.

 

8. When your kids ask a question that’s been a struggle for you personally, tell them as much.

This might sound counter-intuitive, but I actually love when the kids ask something that’s a difficulty in my own faith. As for many people, the problem of suffering in the world has always greatly troubled me. When the kids ask questions on this subject, we discuss free will and its implications, but I’m quick to tell them that this has always been hard for me (and many others) to understand. I explain to them that it’s easy to look at those things and see them as evidence against God. I’m very honest about it. But after I acknowledge that, I use it as a perfect opportunity to talk about how much evidence there is for God and why we are Christians despite those difficulties.

Getting real about your own faith challenges gives you credibility with your kids and helps give them a more realistic understanding of what a living, breathing faith looks like.

 

9. If you miss a week…or two…or three…don’t give up on it.

There was a period of about a month when we got busy and didn’t do our questions night. It would have been easy to let it go at that point. But when we told the kids one evening that it was time to do it again, they cheered and all ran into the living room to sit down. They started waving their hands in the air to be the first to ask something. And we literally couldn’t stop the questions from coming.

After just one month.

Again, they could have asked us those questions at any time. They didn’t need a “questions night.” But in the hustle and bustle of life, those questions often don’t naturally arise. So give it a try in your own family. It could completely transform your kids’ spiritual life.

 

Here’s a challenge to all of you as an easy start toward this. Ask your kids today, “What is one of the biggest questions you have about God, Jesus, or the Bible?” Come back and share what they asked and what happened in your conversation!

 

For more articles like: How to Get Your Kids to Ask More Questions About Their Faith visit Natasha’s site at ChristianMomThoughts.com

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9 replies
  1. Tom Rafferty says:

    This is a great idea. I would like to hear your answer when your children ask the big one, “How do you know that you are correct?” Religion really has no verified answer to that question. All answers by apologists to that question are devoid of evidence.

    Reply
  2. Luke says:

    Tom,

    I’d like to ask you two quick questions:

    1. Is there anything you believe, but which you can’t prove with certainty? (For example. some say “I believe that there is life elsewhere in the universe.)

    2. Are absolutely sure that G-d doesn’t exist?

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
      • toby says:

        Absolute knowledge is a myth. We can have absolute knowledge about certain things, definitional truths, 1=1 or square has four sides and four right angles, but when we get to ideas like beauty, perfection, good, better, best, we’re stuck with opinion and probability.

        “Is there anything you believe, but which you can’t prove with certainty?”

        Yes, that if I’m standing on Earth and drop a massive object that object with fall to the ground. I could do this for a million years and get the same result. Do I know that absolutely? No, but I’m certain to such a high degree that you might as well say absolutely certain.

        Reply
  3. Luke says:

    So Tom and Toby, it seems that you both live as if certain things were true, even though you can’t prove with certainty that they are (in fact, such knowledge is a myth). One can play with definitions, but this sounds a lot like “faith” (a strong belief or trust in something). Toby has faith that an object will fall to the ground, though he can’t be certain it will. Still, he lives his life based on that belief and if it were true. (Which is quite rational, I think. I do the same.)

    Tom, you admit that you’re not certain that G-d doesn’t exist, yet you seem to live your life as though he doesn’t. (Again, that seems quite rational to me as well, and I’m convinced that I would live my life the same way, if I stopped believing in G-d.)

    My point is, I’m not too sure you and Ms. Crain are all that different in the end. You may not see evidence for G-d, but she does. How we see evidence, and whether we are convinced by it is, in the end, subjective. As Toby says, there is no absolute truth about the value of evidence.

    You both live life on faith that certain things are true (and certain things are not), even though, in the end, you can’t really be absolutely certain that you’re right. You can say that you have more evidence, so you are more justified than Ms. Crain, but again, the amount of evidence one finds convincing is subjective and is ingrained, not decided on by us. (In other words, you can’t make yourself have a higher standard in order to be convinced of something.)

    This post is kind of pointless — I do realize that. I’m not saying you’re incorrect or wrong about anything. I suppose I’m just thinking out loud about how much you guys have in common.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
    • toby says:

      One can play with definitions, but this sounds a lot like “faith” (a strong belief or trust in something). Toby has faith that an object will fall to the ground, though he can’t be certain it will.
      I think faith is too loaded of a word, especially here on an apologist website. Let’s reserve the word for religious beliefs and say what I have is previously verified repeatable beliefs. I think what happens is people think atheists are saying faith is bad so they play word games to point back at atheists and say, “You have faith too!” to . . . what? Score debate points? Try to make someone think? We can all agree that thinking if you drop something you’ve dropped a hundred times and it always hits the floor is quiet different than saying, “If I pray and repent I’ll get into heaven.” There’s nothing repeatable or verifiable about that. So faith seems like a charged word that should be reserved for the latter statement.

      Reply
      • Luke says:

        Toby,

        I can agree with that. I think that word can be dropped because though technically correct, it is a loaded one. My underlying point is the same though — we all live as though things we can’t be absolutely certain of are indeed true, and what evidence is acceptable to adopt such an attitude is subjective (and in my experience out of our control). (Though Tom may argue that he has repeatable, verifiable evidence that G-d doesn’t exist, I think we’d all agree that his evidence on that count is not quite as foolproof as your gravity evidence.)

        (Like I said, my post here has little point. I suppose I am just trying to point out that while we’re all different from one another, maybe we’re not as different as we like to make ourselves out to be.)

        Thanks,

        Luke

        Reply
  4. Luke says:

    Toby said:“I think what happens is people think atheists are saying faith is bad so they play word games to point back at atheists and say, “You have faith too!” to . . . what? Score debate points?”

    My point was certainly not to score debate points, but to open a space of empathy and understanding of where someone like Ms. Crain may be coming from. All of have a million things which we don’t (and as you pointed out can’t) know, but we still go on with life as if they were. It’s a pretty small point (which I why I called my post pointless) — but yeah, my goal wasn’t point scoring, but trying to see if there was a small bit of common ground.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply

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