It's the stuff nightmares are made of.
"Mom, I don't see anything wrong with getting drunk if you are old enough."
"How do you know there is a God? He sure doesn't seem real to me!"
"How can God possibly be good when he killed all those people in the Bible?"
"If there is a God, why does Dad have cancer?"
"I don't think there is anything wrong with living together and not being married."
And the list goes on and on...
What do we do when our kids come to us with their doubts, thoughts and questions?
Whatever you do, stay calm and don't blow a gasket!
Christian college chaplains have informed me before that it is a developmentally normal for teens and college-aged kids to wrestle with the questions of their faith. This is how they learn to own their own convictions--but it is a process of growth and may take some time!
I believe that I have even seen this in my own children. My daughter Christie went through a time when she was 16 years old and felt that God spoke to everyone else but not to her. She felt like her quiet times were lifeless and she never heard from God--ever. I remember just praying and praying for God to speak to her and for her to learn how to hear God's voice. She went through an internship the summer of her 16th year where the students and leader went through a Bible study that really clicked with her, and she finally learned how to hear God's voice for herself. And the rest is history. Christie loves God, hears from Him regularly and even writes a blog devoted to helping others understand God better. She has a depth in her soul that would not have been there had she not gone through her time of questioning.
From time to time, even young children can fuss about reading a Bible storybook. They may even say things like “No Mommy, I don’t like Jesus!!” Our natural tendency when something like this happens is to worry and fret about the possibility of this particular child not growing up to love God. We have to remember--they are children! And children say things they don't mean or understand quite a lot of the time. When your children say things like this, just remind yourself ... children say silly things.
Older children say silly things, too! And sometimes they say scary things. What do we do? Stay calm, pray, and trust God. Whatever happens, "Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ" Phillipians 1:27. Don't blow up or freak out!! Don't assume the worst of your kids. Remind your kids that God loves them. Tell them how awesome they are and how much you love their faith. Let your older kids know that their questions are okay because it shows that they are developing their own faith in God. Tell them how thankful you are that they come to you and trust you with their questions. Let them know that you believe in them and the God that is leading them.
I have been in situations where the parents of kids going through questioning times are praying about their child's lack of faith in a negative way--within earshot of their kids. Please, please, please never do that! Don't ever let your kids think that you believe they are lost- especially your adult kids. God talks a lot in scripture about having faith. I believe we are to have faith in God and in our children. God will never let them go and wants none of them to perish.
Remember the Holy Spirit has access to our children's hearts and minds and will be speaking to them. He will work in ways that we never could ever dream of.
Being confident of this; that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" Phillipians 1:6.
God is working. He will never let them go! Pray like crazy and believe in your kids and the plans God has for their life. Remind them often of things that you admire about their faith. If you can't think of anything, ask God. He will help you to know what to say to encourage your kids. Keep the lines of communication open and remember, if they don't come to you, they will most likely go to their friends or culture with their doubts. You want them to come to you and to know that you are always on their side and will always believe in them.
So hang in there, mama! And put the mommy nightmares to rest. You serve a big God, and He is in love with your children and will pursue them all their lives!
Deb has a passion for discipleship and prayer that reaches around the world. She has led discipleship groups for the last 15 years- focusing on the art of the prayer-filled life as wife, mom and woman of God. Deb is a frequent speaker at women’s groups and has hosted International Leaders in her home with Momheart Ministries. Her favorite ways to spend her time include time with God in the morning on her favorite brown couch, with the fire burning, candles lit, hot tea and Bible in hand, while snuggling with her dog, Haylee; coffee time on Saturday mornings on that same couch with her husband of 22 years, Randy, and visiting with her kids, Christie(19), and Jack (16), while they sip hot tea and coffee. Deb hopes that her couch does not wear out any time soon.