I think “Why?” might be my least favorite question, especially since becoming a parent. The whys never end! I admit that I’m prone to shut them down. I might have yelled, “No more questions!” a time or two while driving from one place to another.
But even though, “Why?” might be the most infuriating question, it’s also the most important.Teaching our kids the why of our faith is another essential piece of teaching them core truths that will sustain them, and equipping them for the questions they’ll face.
Teaching our kids both what we believe and why we believe it shows them that our faith has substance. “Because I said so” might be a valid defense for a two-year old, but it doesn’t hold up for a teenager. We need to help our children see that our faith is a thoughtful one that’s weighed the options, examined the evidence, and landed in a place that can hold its own.
There’s a proactive way to teach why—learning apologetics with our children, digging deeper into doctrine and history, reading biographies and learning from experts (and I’ve recommended some resources to help you at the end of this PDF).
But there’s also a more passive (though equally intentional) path: welcoming, inviting—even provoking—their questions.
What’s unknown is intriguing. We want to teach our kids the real thing, but sometimes I think we’re scared of what will happen if we hand them a fake. Will they love it? Will it steal their affection? Will it lead them astray? We attempt to protect them from their curiosity.
But curiosity will come. And, if they’ve never seen it before, it might be bright and shiny, even as it leads to death (Prov. 16:25).
What if, instead, we presented the alternatives? What if, together, we taught our kids about why people leave our faith, what makes them reject Jesus, what other gospels are out there? What if we allowed them to ask the questions they might be scared to ask because they expose doubts or fears? What if we told them that we had those questions, too?
A questioning faith is a stronger one. If we welcome our children’s questions, we show them that it’s okay to have doubts and uncertainties—that a strong faith doesn’t necessarily mean it will not waver at times. As we welcome their questions, we also show them they don’t have to be alone in those struggles. That God has provided a family—both within our own homes and within his church—to help us find the answers we seek. And if we welcome our children’s questions, we show them that the questions they’re asked at school or on the soccer field have been asked and answered before. Questions need not unravel their faith, but rather can serve as a conduit to deeper confidence in God as they seek out the answers.