“Am I going to die tonight?”
How do you even answer that? She was 4. Four years old. I know adults who struggle with the possibility of death, so how do you explain it to a preschooler?
The topics of death, dying, and Heaven had dominated our conversations for several months. She wanted to know about angels, what heaven looks like, and whether all the people she knew would be there. She asked, “When we die, will we float up to Heaven?”
I have a feeling you’ve had a child ask a hard question or two, and if you haven’t, there’s a good possibility your kiddos will think of something completely off the wall to ask. So, just in case you have some crazy questions headed your way, here are 3 tips on how to answer them:
1. Remain calm
There was something slightly disturbing about my small child discussing her imminent death at bedtime. But when I took a deep breath and gave myself a moment to respond, I realized just how innocent this question was. In fact, I could take joy in the fact that she wanted to know more about eternal things at such a young age.
Children are curious. If they don’t know the answer to a question, they just ask. In this particular case, my daughter had heard about Heaven. She had heard it was a place you go after you die. She always wanted to know when we were going to Nana’s house, so why wouldn’t she want to know when she was going to Heaven?
The question is probably a bigger deal to you than it is to your child, but if you have a strange reaction, chances are your child will associate the concept with negative feelings. If you want to be the person your child goes to when they have tough questions, be willing to have tough conversations.
2. Take time to answer
It is perfectly acceptable to tell your child you don’t know an answer to an impossible question. Should this be the case, let them know you will see what you can find and get back to them.
Since my daughter had been so curious about Heaven and death, we purchased a book to read together as a family: “Heaven for Kids: My First Bible Reference for 5-8 Year Olds” by Ed Strauss. This book did the hard work for us. It answered many of her big questions and was a resource for any additional questions in the future.
Come back to the topic a few days later to keep the line of conversation open. Let them know what you’ve been thinking since then and ask if they have any more questions. The idea is to keep the dialogue going. This will strengthen your relationship with your child because you are showing them that the things they think about are important to you.
3. Make the most of the opportunity
The more my daughter asked about Heaven, the more we told her about Jesus. We didn’t share the gospel message with her in one fail swoop, but my husband and I tried to help connect the dots: Heaven is where we will get to be with Jesus. He created it and wants us there with Him. Only people without sin get to go. Jesus died so we can be without sin. Everyone gets to choose whether or not they go to Heaven. We are clean from sin when we invite Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, and then we will be in Heaven with Him one day.
These statements came staggered over a period of several months. She would ask a question, and we’d give another nugget of truth. We would read a Bible story about Jesus’s death and resurrection and then discuss the meaning behind it.
Eventually, these little conversations led to the biggest question, “Can I ask Jesus to be my Lord and Savior?” Yes, sweet child, you absolutely can.
So, back to that first question.
How did I answer?
“You know what baby girl, nobody knows for sure when they are going to die, but let me tell you what I do know. I know that you are young and I believe God has a great big plan for your life. I believe that as you grow, God will use you to make an impact for His Kingdom. And you can know, no matter what happens, God is always with you and you can trust in Him.”
What impossible questions have your children asked? What other tips would you share?