How to Talk to Your Child About God
Mom, where did God come from? Did He have a father and mother?"
asked five-year-old Susan. "Dad, was God really tired after
creating this world and everything in it in six days?" asked
Questions, questions. Children are loaded with questions. That's
the way God made them. "The crucial years between four and
twelve, (are) when children form their most basic ideas about God
and religion," says psychologist David Heller, Talking to Your
Child About God, (Dust cover). If you want your children to enjoy
talking to you, listen carefully to their remarks. Never put them
down and don't be in a hurry. Take time to visit with them. Use
eye contact when conversing with them. Physical contact: natural
touching--hand on a shoulder or arm has a powerful bonding effect.
Ask questions: "How would you feel, Sally, if Jesus were to
invite you to sit on His lap?" (Then listen attentively.)
Ellen White says we "should avoid tedious remarks. Short remarks
and to the point. . ." Child Guidance, pp. 34, 35. She says,
"Mealtime should be a season for social intercourse and refreshment."
Ibid. p. 387. Often use the phrase: "This is what I believe."
"So Tim told you that the Sabbath is for the Jews. The Bible
says that 'the Sabbath was made for man.' I believe the seventh
day is the Sabbath, as the fourth commandment states."
Larry, age nine, was asked to straighten up his room and vacuum
the floor. "It will be sundown in 30 minutes," said Mother.
"I think God likes my room just like it is," replied Larry.
"But remember, Larry, Jesus folded His burial clothes when
he arose from the tomb." "O.K., Mom," said Larry.
Be sure to share your spiritual journey: "Susie, let me tell
you how I decided to be a Christian. It was at Junior Camp one summer
when I was 11 years old," etc. Tell lots of stories--answers
to prayer, lessons you learned through pain and sickness, etc. Encourage
curiosity, imagination, and spontaneity. Jesus loved children. He
said, "Unless you. . . become as little children you will by
no means enter the kingdom of heaven" Matt. 18:3, NKJV. Characteristics
Jesus valued in children were honesty and simple faith. The children
believed what Jesus said.
Love and trust in the home are the foundation of a child's spiritual
life. Without love in a parent-child relationship, God will seem
distant and nebulous. Talk to your children about God's care for
His creation-- how He feeds the birds and sends rain and sunshine
to make the flowers grow. Talk about how God provides for us: He
gives us mothers and fathers, He helps us sleep at night. Emphasize
God's loving nature. Friends sometimes let us down, but God is truly
Erik Erickson says that basic trust is the foundation for all child
development. "Trust, then, becomes the capacity for faith..."
Identity: Youth and Crisis, p. 106. We should acknowledge to our
children that no one has all the answers about God. But our best
source of information about God is the Holy Scriptures. This is
why we go to Sabbath School and church.
Joan was trying to memorize her memory verse: Eccl. 12:13. "Mom,
are we really supposed to be afraid of God? It says here to "fear
God, and keep His commandments." Joan's mother replied, "To
fear God, in this text, means to respect and reverence God. Yes,
we should fear to sin against God. If you really want to know what
God is like, look at Jesus."
Serious discussion about God can begin when your child is old enough
to form ideas. But even when the child is a babe in arms, you should
sing Sabbath School songs to him or her, and pray. "Education
begins with the infant in its mother's arms." Child Guidance,
As children grow older talk about God's daily blessings. Adapt
your interaction to their age and development. "Mommy, please
leave the light on in my room. I'm afraid of the dark," said
three-year-old Marie. Instead of lecturing her about bravery, she
sat down on the bed and took her hand. "Marie, Mother is going
to ask Jesus to send a big strong angel to protect you and comfort
you." So Marie's mother prayed earnestly for an angel's presence
to comfort her daughter. After prayer she asked Marie if she still
wanted the light left on. "No, Mommy," she said, "you
can turn it off." Learning to pray is a giant step in leading
a child to Christ. My first memories of prayer were kneeling beside
my bed and repeating my mother's prayer after her. Soon I was talking
to Jesus as my Friend.
Conversion is an important goal. "Children of eight, ten,
or twelve years are old enough to be addressed on the subject of
personal religion. Do not teach your children with reference to
some future period when they shall be old enough to repent and believe
the truth." Ibid., pp. 490, 491. "It is a mistake to set
an arbitrary age for conversion. . .God's Spirit does work with
the individual in conversion." Clifford Ingle, Children and
Conversion, p. 95. As parents, we should watch for signs that our
child is under conviction by the Holy Spirit. Talk to your child
and to your pastor.