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How to Answer Kids’ Toughest Questions

Insights from experts on how to answer kids’ toughest questions

You’ve heard it before: That question from a child that stops you cold and leaves you searching for the right words to answer. Kids grapple with tough questions every day-about their faith, their relationships, their fears. Some of those questions can stump even the Bible-savviest children’s minister!

We pooled a team of Christian experts who know kids-and then threw them some of the toughest questions kids ask. Here’s their candid advice about how to answer.

“Why does prayer sometimes work and sometimes doesn’t?”

Teach kids the truth about prayer. It’s not a “gimme” list or bargaining chip or quick fix. Prayer is time spent talking with and listening to God.
-Kandi Elliott

Every prayer isn’t going to get the answer we want on earth. We won’t be able to see some of the prayers working in our lives until we’re in Heaven.
-Lori Valenzisi

Prayer isn’t like a Christian rabbit’s foot-rub it and get your wish. Prayer is communication with God who sees the big picture in our lives. Sometimes we don’t get the answer we want because God knows it wouldn’t be good for us. Other times people who aren’t following Jesus do things that affect us. God won’t make them do right things. Everyone has the free will to make bad choices, even if we pray that they won’t. But we know Jesus is always with us
when we walk through difficult, hard, or hurtful places.
-Marlene LeFever

It can be frustrating when God feels silent, like he’s not listening. Imagine walking up to an elevator and pushing the “up” button. After one minute, the average person gets impatient if the door doesn’t open. Three minutes seems like forever. Prayer can feel that way. Often we don’t just want God to answer our prayers, we want them answered now. God does open the best doors to the best places, but in his time.
-John Trent

We must be careful what we teach kids about prayer. To talk about prayer “working” makes it into a pragmatic and sometimes quid pro quo exercise. Teach kids about all aspects of prayer, not just intercession and petition.
-Ivy Beckwith

“Is it okay to lie if the truth will hurt someone’s feelings?”

There really are absolute truths! Exodus 20:16 tells us not to lie. It doesn’t say, “Do not lie, unless…” Teach your kids to speak the truth in love and to trust God when it comes to doing the right thing.
-Kandi Elliott

It’s always better to deal with a specific situation than to give a general answer to a general question. If we paint too
broadly, we don’t really help where the ‘rub’ is. Kids don’t need platitudes; they need real help for real tough  situations.
-Karl Bastian

God tells us we’re not supposed to lie. Sure, we don’t want to hurt people, but the truth is if you truly love and care for someone, there’s a way to tell the truth.
-Lori Valenzisi

As a rule, lying is wrong. However, sometimes we tell the hurtful truth when we could just not say anything, or say something truthful that doesn’t hurt. “Those jeans make you look really fat” is better not said. How about, “That shirt is your color for sure!”
-Marlene LeFever

What a great thing when a child is afraid to hurt a friend’s feelings! Celebrate the child for being a great friend-and tell the child that part of being a great friend means telling the truth, even when it’s difficult. -Amy Dolan

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