Navigating Difficult Questions and Conversations About Faith with Your Kids

September 19, 2023

Kayla Craig, author of the brand-new book, Every Season Sacred: Reflections, Prayers, and Invitations to Nourish Your Soul & Nurture Your Children throughout the Year, explores how we can navigate curiosity while promoting spiritual growth in our children.

As moms, most of us step into raising kids without the luxury of theological degrees. Suddenly, we’re entrusted with nurturing, protecting, and guiding our children through their inquiries about faith.

From the constant “Why?” of a preschooler to the challenging “Why not?” of a teenager, our kids’ curiosity about the mysteries of faith can leave us at a loss.

Create Space

Asking questions is innate to children, mirroring the curiosity in Jesus’ disciples. In his parables, Jesus responded to questions in a way that invited his followers into a learning posture. Similarly, we can embrace curiosity as a catalyst for growth. When we’re willing to enter the messiness of these conversations, we allow our families to remain in a state of growth, respecting the uncertainties that arise.

Embrace the Messiness

Faith discussions aren’t meant to be tidily wrapped up; they’re ongoing processes. Embrace open-ended questions and authentic conversations, even if you lack all the answers. Recognize that many answers lie beyond our reach. Hebrews 11:1 reminds us that faith is evidence of things unseen. Like constellations appearing only at specific coordinates, faith is about holding onto promises we cannot physically perceive. Your authenticity as a parent allows your kids to witness faith in action.

Navigate the Darkness Together

Our world is complex—and as much as we experience joy, we also have to navigate unspeakable pain and sorrow. When I found myself unexpectedly discussing a violent tragedy with my son, it sparked a flood of emotions and challenging questions within him. In moments like these, trust is paramount. When hard things happen, remember that your child’s trust in you to share their fears, confusion, and doubts demonstrates the depth of your connection. Respond with empathy, making space for their emotions to unfold. Sometimes, the most powerful thing is just to listen and be present.

Sit in the Unknown

Navigating tough questions involves acknowledging that you might not have all the answers. But our role as parents is simply to create safe spaces to explore the mysteries of faith. Addressing complex topics instead of ignoring them or pretending we have all the answers empowers children and offers them a secure place to confront unfamiliar subjects. When your child asks a big question, you might not be prepared with a concrete answer, but you can show up for them and affirm that, even in the unknowns, they are loved by the One who makes all things new.

Guide with Grace

As Christian parents, our duty is not to shelter our children from the harsh realities of the world but to guide them through the complexities. We’re called to introduce them to the living Hope that guides us toward a better way. Discipling with tenderness and grace is paramount, embracing the model of Jesus’ compassionate listening throughout the Gospels.

Promote Nuance

While apprehension about discussing uncomfortable subjects is expected, we must not shy away. Our children are constantly being formed, and we have the gift to help guide their spiritual formation through connected and thoughtful conversations. They’ll seek answers elsewhere if we don’t provide empathy, nuance, and understanding. By modeling thoughtfulness and compassion, we ensure that children know they can trust us with their big wonderings.

Fostering Hope

In moments of fear or confusion, help your children turn to Jesus. Teach them that the Spirit is a constant presence, offering comfort and guidance. Engage them in discussions about hope and encourage them to stand up for what’s right. The hope we hold as followers of Christ is a beacon that shines even in the darkest moments.

As parents, we have the honor and responsibility of guiding our children through the winding journey of faith in our weary world. By embracing messiness and offering guidance with empathy and truth, we lay the foundation for their spiritual growth. Remember that these conversations are opportunities for connection, learning, and deepening faith—for your children and for you too.

Note: This article is inspired by Every Season Sacred by Kayla Craig, a gorgeous new book designed to equip parents in navigating faith conversations with their children. While uncertainties and challenges may arise, armed with love, empathy, and valuable resources, you can lead your children toward a resilient and deeply rooted faith.

What does it look like to live a flourishing, messy, wonderful life together? With tender curiosity and contemplative wisdom, Every Season Sacred is a weekly invitation to grow spiritually alongside our children. Blending thoughtful musings and practical resources, author Kayla Craig meets parents right where they are, offering:

  • honest and hopeful reflections for every season of the parenting journey;
  • encouragement to parent with intention and imagination, presence and purpose; and
  • open-ended discussion prompts and prayers to explore and practice as a family.

Every Season Sacred is an invitation to ask big questions, embrace faithful rhythms, and experience God’s mysterious, loving presence together.

Kayla is a former journalist who brings deep curiosity and care to her writing. She’s the author of Every Season Sacred and To Light Their Way. She created the popular Liturgies for Parents Instagram account, which Christianity Today named an “essential parenting resource.” She also hosts the Liturgies for Parents podcast. Kayla’s nuanced and accessible reflections, essays, and prayers are featured in various books, devotionals, and bible studies. Kayla lives in a 115-year-old former convent in her Iowa hometown, where she hopes to create spaces of welcome alongside her four children, two dogs, and pastor-husband, Jonny.

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