Many discouraged parents have asked us this question: How should we respond to our child who doubts the reality of God?
When children suggest “there is no God” it’s natural for parents to immediately try to convince them otherwise. It’s a good intention, but one that often deepens the chasm between kids’ doubts and their movement toward God. If this is your reality, understand that there is probably little you can say, (because they’ve probably heard all the arguments before) but much that you can DO to make it safe for your kids to struggle back toward Jesus when they have doubts.
A young mom queried me intently after our talk on Entitlement in kids. “What do you do about the culture around us that guarantees that every child is a “winner” at participating and receives a trophy, even for last place?”
We commiserated about how rampant this attitude is, that dispenses trophies and stickers and stars and ribbons ad nauseum to make sure no one feels bad, and puts caps and gowns on kindergarteners for conquering a rigorous academic year.
So practically, how can you respond to this widespread attitude of trophy entitlement? Here’s what I told Jill.
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Peer relationships carry increasing influence as children grow up. And sometimes, these relationships can be reason for parents to feel increasingly anxious.
Kids may choose good friends or they may not. Parents, wanting what’s best for their kids, have a tendency to over-control their children’s choices. I was one of those.
As Daniel entered elementary school, he had a friend Lynne and I did not particularly care for. Because they shared common interests, they gravitated toward each other. The fact that the friend was in our neighborhood also made it almost impossible to fully monitor their interaction. We tried to convince Daniel that while this friend needed God’s love, we didn’t think their friendship was a good idea. But even as a seven-year-old, he was resistant to our control.
Parents can get in ruts. That’s true for me and I’m pretty sure it is for you, too.
One rut that is familiar to many is the hurried race out the door because “we’re going to be late!!” Or how about the chaos of bedtime and the barking of orders that can consistently ensue? In our house lately it’s the questioning of completed homework and interrogating of my kids’ screens that is especially exasperating to all involved.
If we were to video ourselves at these times and watch it through the eyes of our kids, what would we see?
Last week I wrote about how my junior high daughter creatively and proactively asked for an iPod by preparing a well-thought-out list of answers to concerns she thought I might have. Here’s the rest of the story!
My daughter’s proactive list was a breath of fresh air and showed me a growing capacity in her to think more broadly about the impact of purchasing the iPod. Her pleasant, non-demanding tone was another sign of her maturity and thoughtful processing of the situation.
Some parents may believe that asking for the iPod in such an impressive manner should gain her access to it immediately. She deserves it, right? Others may view it as a form of my daughter manipulating me to get what she really wanted and saying yes will only mean more of this new “tactic”.
My daughter approached me with a typical question — one I’ve heard one hundred seventy-three times (but who’s counting). “Dad, can I have an iPod Touch?”
But this time, her approach was different.
She made a good pitch — she had an unbelievable opportunity to obtain a friend’s iPod for the extremely reasonable price of $20. Having experienced this conversation with me one hundred and seventy-three times, she came with a written document that detailed her plan to address many of the questions or concerns she thought I would have. I was pleasantly surprised and very impressed!
The document was entitled, “If I got an iPod…” and went like this:
Caroline was thoughtful as I described how our young adult kids call from time to time and ask us to help them think through a situation.
“After they describe their dilemma, we usually ask them thoughtful questions to guide their thinking,” I explained.
“Hmm.” Caroline thought for a moment. “Neither my husband or I ever call our parents asking for input with a challenge. When we talk to our parents we don’t feel listened to, we feel lectured. They were very authoritarian when we were young, and they really haven’t changed.”
That insight about her own parents guided a great discussion about the kind of relationship she wanted to have with her children as they grow.
To illustrate this in real life, we’ve invited Joel and Amy to write about their journey to learn to ask good questions and build wisdom with their two teenage sons.
I remember the feeling of cluelessness one day when my husband and I were sitting in a session with our parent coach, Chad.
We’d been learning from Connected Families’ resources about how to communicate to our two teenage sons that they were safe and loved. While we were growing and our hearts were changing, we still had many unsolved problems and felt stuck. After we described an issue with one of our sons during a coaching session, Chad asked, “How does your son feel about it?”
Dead silence. We were totally clueless. We said that we thought he felt a certain way, but really we had no idea. Then Chad asked, “Well, have you ever asked him?”
Questions are a simple and powerful tool. Asked well, questions can open hearts -did you know Jesus asked over 300 questions?.
Consider the question, “What happened?” The lilt of voice, the facial expression, the tone and even the sincerity of the question can either open or close the one you’re asking. Just because there is a question mark following a sentence doesn’t mean it is a good question, does it? There is an art to asking good questions!
There are a number of things to keep in mind when asking our kids questions. Here are a few to consider, in the form of — yep — questions!