Parenting done well is time consuming. Christian parenting, even more so. It’s tempting to try and cut corners whenever possible. One of the ways parents often cut corners is to tell their kids what they should do or what they should think rather than teaching them how to think about life the way God would want them to think.
Ironically, you can be great about teaching your kids what God wants them to know without teaching them how to think about life in the ways God would want them to do. That’s one of the reasons why a young person who appears to know a lot about the Bible can struggle living it in every day life.
There is an important question you should start asking your kids at relatively young ages. “What do you think?” It’s important to understand, you will still guide their thinking, but with questions rather than direct answers. Since younger children are more likely to come to you with their dilemmas, starting this technique when they are young teaches them the thought process. They can then use it when they are older and you are perhaps not around as much to give them guidance.
The temptation for both you and your child will be to come up with a response and implied “right” answer as quickly as possible. At times, you may want to do that. Most of the time though, you need to keep asking thinking questions to teach them the questions God would want them to ask themselves before making a choice.
If, during the conversation, your child gives you a wrong or inappropriate answer, try to resist the temptation to immediately correct and lecture. Rather ask more questions that will help your child realize his or her first conclusion may not have been the one God would want them to make. With questions, it is easy to bring in scriptures and Bible stories without sounding preachy, because they are the ones supplying the examples.
This method is also helpful because it takes advantage of the mind’s tendency to remember things it generated better than things it is told. When your child finally comes to a godly conclusion about a situation, it will be remembered better for the next time something similar happens. The questioning method also unravels the power dynamic between some children and their parents. Since you aren’t telling them what to do, they are making the choice independently and are less likely to try and rebel against their own conclusion in some sort of power struggle.
This method won’t work with every child. If you have a relationship where you barely speak, it may not work well at all – especially at first. If your child doesn’t have enough Bible knowledge to know what God wants, this method will be difficult, but not impossible. And sometimes your child will beg you for a quick, direct answer that includes your opinion. There are times when you will need to respect the request, but ultimately, your kids will learn better, godlier decision making skills when you first ask, “What do you think?”