If you have a teenage son or daughter, you know that tough questions come with the territory. Maybe you’d give anything to return to the simple 4-year-old questions like “Why is the grass green?” That answer was easier to Google and then explain.
The kinds of questions your teen comes up with? They’re not so cut-and-dried. Perhaps some of them are ones you’ve never wrestled through yourself before. Maybe some have never occurred to you. Or perhaps you’ve tried a while ago but never came up with a satisfactory answer. So you just shoved the thought back into the recesses of your mind and operated based on what you did know and understand about God, the world, and your responsibilities.
Certainly, we can’t understand everything. We’re limited, and God limits how much He has revealed to us about why He does what He does. But that doesn’t mean we can’t — or shouldn’t — try to help our teens wrestle through their own tough questions. Before we address our first question, let’s take a look at how we shouldn’t respond when our teens come to us.
Don’t Tell Them To Stop
Did you know that an inquisitive mind is a gift from God? It’s the primary tool He gives us to help us desire to learn and grow in a variety of areas. While that curious kid in class with all the questions may have driven the teacher nuts because he kept her from completing her lesson plans, the rest of the class probably mirrored his interest and may well remember what they learned on those unplanned tangents even more than the regular curriculum.
Deuteronomy 6 offers a picture of discipleship that isn’t tied to classroom walls or carefully outlined doctrinal instruction. It’s the kind of thing that involves impromptu conversations and the kind of unpredictable dialog that sometimes ends up someplace you never could have guessed it would.
On that note, you can’t always choose the setting or the timing of their questions. Sometimes they can come at the most inconvenient times. But if they’re asking and you can possibly take the time to answer, take advantage of that moment before it passes you by.
Don’t Fear Admitting Uncertainty
This is difficult for parents, and it’s probably the reason most of us are tempted to just shut our kids out when they start asking hard questions. We come up against our own limited ability to understand.
Long ago, our teens stopped believing we were super heroes, capable of any physical feat. And they may realize we don’t know everything about physics or math or any number of academic subjects.
Somehow understanding the workings of God, though — that’s hard for us to admit we don’t understand. If we say we trust Him with our entire lives and base our every choice on His Word, admitting we don’t always understand His ways might sound foolish. And that’s the last thing we want our kids to hear.
In Part 2, we’ll look at a few more things we don’t want to do, in response to our kids’ hard questions.