Anyone who has spent significant time with children knows that they can ask a lot of questions. The kids don’t have to be your own, they just need to be kids, and you can be sure that they will let their inquiring minds do some walking in all kinds of different places, searching for answers to questions that have emerged from the confines of their minds. Anyone who has had to field those questions knows that those questions are seldom easy to answer and often require a whole lot of thought.
What is sin? Why do people die? Why do people get divorced? What about sexual sin? Why do people fight and kill? Maybe you have had to field these questions and others just like them. Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson have most likely had their fair share of experience with fielding these kinds of questions and they have come together to create a resource for parents who may have to face these and other such questions themselves.
From the beginning, Thompson and Fitzpatrick let their approach come at the reader humbly, not claiming that they have all the answers but just suggesting that they’re coming from the “I’m in the same boat as you” perspective. They acknowledge that there is no answering the questions posed by children without first having wrestled with the same questions yourself. Children are much smarter than to accept trite answers or answers which have no thought behind them. They seem to have a knack for smelling answers that lack experience or thoughtfulness. In fact, the authors say that admitting to all the answers can actually demonstrate a pride which has the potential for creating a wedge between parents and children.
Thompson and Fitzpatrick provide some typical questions with thoughtful advice in the various chapters. At the end of each chapter, they provide sections based on the age range of children with whom you are dealing. They do a good job of thoroughly answering the questions and bringing biblical content to support those answers. While the ends of the chapters are mostly helpful in fielding age specific questions, they can have a tendency to be overly exhaustive rather than concise.
The authors pull no punches in providing answers to the difficult questions that they expect from children of all ages. They emphasize the need to address the realities of life without entering into dialogue about specific life issues too soon for children. Life is messy, life is tough, there is no hiding it from children, but there are certain subjects that can wait until they absolutely need to be addressed rather than forcing the issue before its time has come. If we fail to provide answers to children, they won’t just remain without answers but they will find the answers on their own.
Throughout the book, the authors emphasize some very important biblical and theological concepts. For one, they emphasize the sovereignty of God. There is no dealing with difficult questions without a firm belief in the fact that God is in control and is not surprised by anything, not death, not tragedy, nothing. They also emphasize the fact that parents are not the end-all-be-all for answering children’s questions. Parents will do their best but they are still only human and incapable of having every answer to every question, acknowledging this is a good first step to relying on the power of the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of our children.
I so appreciate the honesty of the authors. Their humility is refreshing and they admit that allowing children and young people to raise questions allows them to know that Christianity, “can stand up to any challenge.” While this book may not contain every question that a child may ask, it’s a good start and a good resource for parents. It’s a helpful reminder to parents that they have a duty and responsibility to their children but that in the midst of fulfilling that duty and responsibility, they are not alone and powerless but have the power that God alone gives to his children.
(This review is based upon a copy of this book which was provided free of charge from Bethany House Publishers. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.)