If your kids are school age, you’ve probably already noticed that everything their favorite teacher says is a fact, regardless of whether or not it actually is. It can be funny if the new fact is that okra is the best vegetable ever, but for Christian parents your kids’ lack of discernment can quickly become problematic. Not being able to differentiate between the facts of God’s truths, and the assumptions and opinions of others can leave them spiritually susceptible to being led astray.
There’s a fun activity you can do with your kids to help them begin to discern between facts, assumptions and opinions. Grab a Bible and share with your kids the story of Hannah and Eli found in 1 Samuel 1:1-18. Ask your kids what Eli assumed about Hannah? What was Eli’s opinion of Hannah based on his assumption? What were the facts of what Eli observed? How did Hannah explaining the facts of what she was doing change Eli’s opinion of her?
Explain that if Eli had not taken the time to discover the facts of what was happening, he could have made a lot of mistakes based on his assumption. As it was, he added to Hannah’s distress by falsely accusing her. Had he chosen to tell others or deny her access because of his assumptions, the situation would have gotten even worse.
Teach your kids the difference between facts, assumptions and opinions. Find the dictionary definitions. Give lots of examples – especially for young children. For example: The fact was that Hannah was praying fervently to God. Eli’s assumption was that Hannah was drunk. His opinion of her was negative because of his erroneous assumption. Point out that keeping our assumptions without checking for facts, causes all sorts of problems. Give examples you have seen of people expecting the worst and causing problems for someone who was innocent. Or someone who assumed the best and believed a lie that later hurt them or others.
Then have fun with it. Play a game where statements are made or scenarios given. In each case, your kids must decide if a fact, assumption or opinion is involved. In some cases an assumption can lead to an opinion so in those cases they need to point out both. Older kids may want to create their own statements and scenarios to try and stump the rest of your family. For older kids and teens, you may want to read statements from social media or news articles. Have fun with it, but make the scenarios varied enough that your kids get lots of practice in discernment. Play the game periodically to keep your kids’ discernment skills sharp.