Tips for Having Natural Spiritual Conversations With Your Kids

As a Christian parent, you would probably love to have meaningful spiritual conversations with your children. When you try, however, the conversations feel stilted and awkward. Or perhaps you find what you thought would be a great spiritual discussion spiraling into an argument. It seems that no matter how hard you try, you never feel like the conversations are helping your kids grow spiritually.

Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to make it more likely you are able to achieve your goals in these crucial conversations.

  1. Choose the time and place carefully – especially if you already know your children will disagree with what you have to say. Timing is half the battle. Try to have conversations when everyone is relaxed and well rested. Sometimes having them on a hike or other area away from home can make potentially tense conversations less so. What you want is for the atmosphere to be as relaxed and casual as possible.
  2. Try opening the conversation with a casual question. Godly Play promotes using “I wonder…” questions when having spiritual conversations with children. Asking a question changes a conversation from sounding like a sermon to a mutual discovery of what God wants from both you and your children. It also gives them a platform for feeling heard, making it more likely they will listen to your counsel.
  3. Give them space to ask questions and express doubts. We say it a lot, but it’s true. It’s not doubts that destroy faith, but doubts that aren’t addressed by Christians with godly, biblical answers. Leaving your children’s spiritual questions unanswered makes them vulnerable to whomever Satan sends their way to answer those questions.
  4. Use their real life experiences to point out God’s wisdom and/or commands on the topic. Combined with “I wonder” questions, this works well. So, for example, if your child comes home talking about how nobody likes Susie because she tells lies, then you can launch at least a mini conversation with, “Hmmm. I wonder if that is one of the reasons God hates lies…. (No one can trust us if we tell lies)?”
  5. Use the cover of their peers. Sometimes your child may be concerned about telling you about a doubt or concern. It can be easier if you frame the question about how people their age or their friends feel about the topic. Chances are at least one of their friends has the same concerns and they can answer your question honestly without having to openly admit they are having the same questions.
  6. Stay calm and listen carefully. What if your child launches a spiritual bombshell in the middle of a conversation? If the child is doing it to get a reaction from you, losing your cool plays right into their plan. Most kids and teens will shut down the minute a parent gets upset. They stop listening, get defensive or begin rebelling. Often staying cool and casually presenting the truth gives them a little time and space to feel like they came to the conclusion on their own instead of being forced into it by you. Bring up this topic again periodically to monitor how they are processing it and don’t gloat when they finally agree with you.
  7. Bring in a “neutral” third party. They may not listen to what they consider a sermon from you, but may read an apologetics book or watch a video. It removes the parenting dynamic from the equation and encourages them to deal with the actual topic without getting entangled with their feelings about your relationship.
  8. Practice authoritative parenting. If you practice an authoritarian parenting style, your kids are already primed for rebellion because you have harsh rules and consequences without a nurturing relationship. If you are a permissive parent, your kids are also primed for rebellion, because you have taught them they can do whatever they want without consequence. Authoritative parents with their nurturing parenting style can get away with being firm and even strict, because their kids know their parents are doing those things in their best interest. They may not always agree with you, but they are much less likely to rebel against you and/or God.
  9. Don’t be afraid to share spiritual truths, but mirror how Jesus did it. Sometimes your children may need to hear the harsh sounding truth that their choices are not making God happy. Making excuses for them or pretending like a sin isn’t a sin won’t help. Neither will pretending there is some mysterious third path where they can call themselves a Christian, but refuse to get baptized or even attempt to obey God’s commands but still go to Heaven. Sometimes the most loving thing we can do for our children is to tell them a hard truth. But even harsh truths can be shared with love and showing them there is a path for forgiveness and grace.
  10. Don’t think addressing a spiritual topic once will settle the topic. As your children age, they will have more experiences that can raise additional questions or concerns. Bringing up important topics periodically can allow you to check in before they get too far down a spiritual rabbit hole.

Having spiritual conversations with your children doesn’t have to be difficult. The more often you have them, the more natural they will seem. And the more time you spend in personal Bible study, the more likely you will be able to handle whatever happens. Your kids desperately need you to have these conversations with them. Don’t let them down.

Published by

Thereasa Winnett

Thereasa Winnett is the founder of Teach One Reach One and blogger at Parenting Like Hannah. She holds a BA in education from the College of William and Mary. She has served in all areas of ministry to children and teens for more than thirty years and regularly leads workshops for ministries and churches. She has conducted numerous workshops, including sessions at Points of Light’s National Conference on Volunteering and Service, the National Urban Ministry Conference, Pepperdine Bible Lectures, and Lipscomb’s Summer Celebration. Thereasa lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband Greg, where she enjoys reading, knitting, traveling and cooking.

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