Children are growing up so fast now. With the ever-increasing advancements of technology, they are exposed to facets of life that some of us did not even consider until we were teenagers.
When I picked up my cell phone yesterday, I noticed it was a call from my daughter half way around the world. However, instead of my daughter’s voice it was my four-year old granddaughter calling me from Cyprus. My daughter had dialed my number and handed her the phone in exasperation. Over the past two weeks she has asked questions about Jesus and satan*. When she asked why God just didn’t kill satan since he was so bad it was time to let her ask grandmom 1000 questions.
It all started innocently enough when she asked what happened to a villain in one of her stories. My daughter tried to tell her that bad people did not love God and Jesus. Bad people choose to be like satan* and do bad things. So when they die they go to live with satan instead of God and Jesus. Yesterday morning Audrey informed her mom she was sending Santa an email to tell him not to give satan any presents because he was so awful. Then she started asking her 1000 questions.
Kids say the darndest things … and ask them as well. She never got around to asking me the “why God did not just go ahead and kill satan” question. However, for 15 minutes she asked me all kinds of other questions about being good, being bad, God, satan, about where her Grandpa (my dad) was in Heaven and Hades (I do not use Hell around her so she will not inadvertently blurt it out and people think she is learning to cuss). Obviously, she is truly contemplating the difference between good and evil.
Through the years different people have voiced their opinion over teaching children about God too early. They infer that there is no way they can understand. But, Jesus said in Matthew 19:14
“Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
and in 2 Timothy 3:15
“and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
How early is too early? Teaching children about God and good should start from their first breath. From the music they hear, to your blessings and prayers, these are absorbed just as much as those baby videos and nighttime musical sleep aids. You know the world is bombarding them every turn they make with worldliness from the moment they arrive here. Children are always learning and observing even if not grasping the concept. Exposure to good and God’s ways prepares them for their ultimate decisions in accepting God or rejecting Him. God expects us as parents to protect them from the world and show them Him.
So how do you decide when and how much information to give a child? A blog is too short to go in to detail like I do in my book. However, I will try to give a brief synopsis. Think of it like this:
Imagine that your infant arrives on this earth with an empty sand bucket. It is every parents job to raise that child with their bucket.
- A CONTROLLING parent will walk through life holding the child and the bucket deciding everything that goes in the bucket. That may work in the first few years, but what does the child learn other than being a puppet or robot – a ‘mini-me’. Their views of God will be shallow in that they never learned to seek Him and His truths, they just repeat what they are told.
- An INDULGING parent sits the child down on the ground and gives them the bucket loaded with all the information and toys of life. They want their child to have it all and everyone to brag on them. They want them to have all the advantages and everyone to pat them, the parent on the back for their smart, successful child. They overwhelm the child with knowledge and trinkets, taking away their natural pattern of mental, emotional and spiritual growth. The children are ‘force fed’ life way too fast. God is in the mix, but He is not clearly defined. He is on equal footing with appearance, education and success.
- The SELF CENTERED parent may seem to be over-indulgent. In truth, they find it easier to give things instead of time. So while indulging the child in their whims and over flowing their buckets too fast, they are doing it as a baby-sitter device so that they, the parent, have more time for themselves. They may do the obligatory ‘take them to S.S., church and/or VBS but, will do little to influence their child in spiritual matters themselves. These parents are all about ‘me’ and their own bucket. If their child learns about God it will be on their own as their parent has little interest in their spiritual life.
- And last, the INVOLVED parent is the parent that is prayerfully seeking how to raise their child. They have the manual, God’s word, before them. Their child comes here and they hold them in one arm and their bucket in another. The time comes when they sit the child down and help the child to select things to put in their bucket. At times the bucket becomes heavy, and they help their child carry the bucket. The time will come when they can carry two buckets. They hold on to their young firmly at first, then as they grow the palm loosens ever so slightly and finally opened as they are on their own. However, the hand is always outstretched ready to grasp or be grasped throughout their life.
My daughter wants to be an involved parent, we all do. The hard part is knowing when and how much. Taking time to listen to your child and what they are asking is so important. God draws us from the time we are born. Jesus said:
John 6:44 “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John 12:32 “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”
As parents we are His tool to guide and teach our children in the ways of the Lord and to recognize their need for God, and to respond to His call. Listen to what your child is asking and they will let you know what they are ready for in the way of information. Obviously, my granddaughter wants to understand right and wrong so we should answer her to the best of our ability. Sometimes it is trial and error. We will make errors but, we pray and ask for wisdom as we talk to them. Four is not too young for them to understand right and wrong and start to ask questions. When they understand, they will quit asking that question. Involving older siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, SS teachers, ministers is equally important. Sometimes we hear them ask over and over and sometimes they do not grasp our answer. Do not squelch their asking, find the answer.
Another important thing to remember is that no two children are alike. That in no way means one is less spiritual or not as smart. Allow each to grow at their own pace. Treat each child as unique and peculiar unto the Lord. That is how He treats us.*satan – I know people capitalize the “S” but, I don’t. I refuse to give him any status of importance. He’s a snake, so satan, devil, etc. are lower case, as he is one.