Cara Davis offers up tips on how to talk to your kids about topics like heaven, patience, and thankfulness. See below for helpful strategies for taking on 10 tough topics with little ones.
Times of transition are never easy. It takes great strength to change. Thankfully, our faith can be a source of inspiration, strength and comfort – for kids and adults alike.
Talking about Heaven is a two-sided coin. The old saying goes, everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die. In the same vein, talking to children about death can feel awkward and potentially painful. Thankfully, films and books like Heaven Is For Real might open the door to have a conversation with your kids about these topics.
I remember having a lot of questions about faith as a kid. I mean a lot. I didn’t always feel comfortable asking my parents or my pastor about them, so I wrote them down in a journal. One of the biggest questions I had was, “What is faith?” The biblical answer I heard from the pulpit – “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen” (Hebrews 11:1) – felt so ethereal it was of no earthly good to me – until I really needed it.
This past weekend, my family disconnected from technology and reconnected with each other. Two days at a state park was just what our little crew needed to rest and strengthen our relationships. It wasn’t all bliss. We still dealt with attitudes, misbehavior, and boundless energy, but I noticed that by being intentional and spending time with our two young ones (without the constant distraction of screen time), we felt our relationship being strengthened.
Patience, described by my daughter’s Sunday School teacher (and others) as “waiting with a good attitude,” isn’t a self-help trick to make life more tolerable. It’s part of the fruit of the Spirit, something that should characterize every Christian believer who abides in Christ. Patience is more than waiting on little sis to tie her shoe. It’s staving off anxiety while waiting on test results from the doctor. It’s trusting that God is in control of our finances when we’re not. It’s being tolerant when others show their weaknesses (Proverbs 19:11). It’s continuing to act in faith by prayer while we trust that something will happen (Galatians 6:9).
Salvation is based on the unmerited grace, i.e., forgiveness, of our heavenly Father. So the single best way to give your children a solid foundation for understanding salvation is by talking to them about forgiveness.
All of us have been touched by sickness, directly or indirectly. We often shield our children from the realities of disease, cancer and physical ailments and soften our language in ways we feel they will understand. While we do well to shelter our kids from concepts they’re developmentally unable to understand or process in a healthy way, we do owe them truth wrapped with hope—after all, that’s the gospel.
The Bible is our source for words of wisdom and has a lot to say about it. In it we learn that God gives wisdom (Proverbs 2:6), that if we listen to instruction, which is teaching, we will become wise (Proverbs 19:20) and that if we ask the Lord for wisdom, He’s happy to give it to us (James 1:5).
Talking to your kids about being thankful is a great exercise for adults because it helps us not take the basics for granted. When you ask your kids what they’re thankful for and they say food, a home, clothes, health, family, God, church, and if you’re one of my girls—candy—you realize that Zulily deals or Pinterest projects that you never seem to get to are just ancillary. You already have what’s most important.
Recently I heard about a dad, Brad Henn, who has decorated his house with 31,000 lights in memory of his little girl who died in an accident two years ago. The holidays can be so difficult for anyone who’s lost someone close. The fact that this dad chooses to pour himself into something that brings joy to others in the midst of his deepest grief really fascinated me. He said they started doing London’s Lights two years ago in an effort to take what was birthed in tragedy and turn it into something beautiful.
Cara Davis is a content consultant and co-founder of the soon-to-launch church’d.com. The former editorial director for Relevant Media Group, her writing has appeared in The Huffington Post and CNN, and she’s been quoted in USA Today and The New York Times. She lives with her husband and two girls in East Nashville where she has co-founded a nonprofit called Community PTO to support the success of local community schools.