3 Tips for Answering Your Child’s Hard Questions

“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?”

Impossible questions.

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?

Longing for Paradise

Yeah, a little over a week ago we were at this place. I still can’t believe it.

It all started with a text:

“I really really really just want to stay home tonight.”

There were a lot of things going on – really good things, mind you – but my hubby was tired, and I could relate. As such, I sent him this half-joking, half-serious response:

“I’ve decided I really really really want to run away to an all inclusive resort in the Caribbean for a week. Sans children.”

I think I was expecting him to laugh, or say “if only!” or something of the sort. We had a lot of things going on and had been trying to save money to revamp our kitchen. Instead? Almost immediately he responded, “Release the funds and I am there.”

You don’t have to tell me twice!

We decided to push back our kitchen project. We researched for the best deals. We arranged for childcare for the girls. I was extra motivated to wean the baby from nursing. And then, we went.

You guys, it was amazing.

We spent our time doing things like… reading a book on the beach

Our view while reading. Breathtaking.

… snorkeling

See the little fishies? We saw nurse sharks, sting rays, sea urchins, and all kinds of colorful fish!

… swimming in the pool

The most gorgeous pool I’ve ever seen.

… and enjoying fancy dinners.

Check out that happy couple!

Throughout the planning and the trip itself, I couldn’t help but think about what was really pulling our hearts toward paradise. Aside from getting a chance to relax, why do we feel drawn to these beautiful and exotic locations?

I believe it is because our souls are ingrained with a yearning for heaven. Take the absolute best experiences of our lives, and we still, deep down know that there is something even better waiting for us.

Our vacation was everything that I had hoped it would be. The weather was fantastic and the scenery was gorgeous. But heaven is going to be even better than that.

Max Lucado, in Heaven: God’s Highest Hope, says it this way:

“…we have our moments. The newborn on our breast, the bride on our arm, the sunshine on our back. But even those moments are simply slivers of light breaking through heaven’s window. God flirts with us. He tantalizes us. He romances us. Those moments are appetizers for the dish that is to come.”

When we long for paradise, it is because it is the closest we can get to what is awaiting us in eternity. Our hearts are yearning for the day we get to be in the physical presence of our Lord. Heaven is beyond our imagination (1 Corinthians 2:9), so we seek out the closest thing to it on earth.

The most beautiful thing I’ve seen or experienced in this life is minuscule compared to what lies ahead. The wait…the work… is all going to be worth it.

“We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.” (2 Corinthians 5:3-5ish; The Message)

Interested in learning a little more about heaven? Here is a great message shared by Pastor Chris Hodges from Church of the Highlands just this past Sunday!