Navigating Your Child's Education: Grades 6-8

3 min read

Helping Our Kids Navigate Doubt

Oct 21, 2021 8:00 PM

Deconstruction. Doubt. These are words that have surfaced as commonplace in our culture and within the Christian faith specifically.
Doubt often feels scary. Many of us were handed a vision of the Christian faith that says there’s a series of boxes to check to be considered “in,” so the minute we start questioning any of those boxes, we can begin to doubt our very faith. Yet, some of us need to deconstruct wrong ideas about God.

All of us have some understanding of the Bible, Jesus, God, that is untrue. Part of being a Christian is finding out that we’re wrong sometimes. When we discover that some part of the vision of the Christian faith we were given is inaccurate, we are called to change our minds. In fact, the word “repentance” in the Bible is the Greek word metanoia, which means to change one’s mind. We must be open to correction and change and follow the way of the Kingdom of God. Sometimes this process involves deconstructing untrue understandings.

Parents are not exempt from this process. There is no parent that doesn’t have some struggle with some aspect of the Christian story. There are elements of the faith that are hard to understand and grasp. As a parent, wrestling with doubts and deconstructing certain beliefs is especially challenging. It is hard to be transparent and live out our doubts with our kids. They are so sensitive to what they see, hear, and experience, and we are aware of what a deep impact our own spiritual journeys have on theirs.

And the reality is that they, too, will go through moments of doubt and change. As a child’s faith truly becomes their own, there is a natural process of differentiation that takes place. As a way of preparing our children for their own faith journey, the best thing we can do for our children is to model faith—live a life that models the life of Jesus, even as we face our own doubts.

Upper School Girl

So how do we live out our faith and wrestle with our doubts as parents?

There are two approaches to transparency with kids that are largely unhelpful:

Tell our kids nothing.

This is the extremely conservative approach of never telling our kids about our doubts, struggles, or difficulties. One example of this would be a married couple that refuses to ever have a disagreement in front of their children. This approach is unhelpful—and can even be deceptive—because it is inadvertently teaching our children to live a life that doesn’t exist. Part of being a parent is leading our kids into the world that exists. In the real world, spouses sometimes disagree. In the real world, there are things about God and the Bible that are hard to understand, and sometimes we have doubts. If our children think that following Jesus means having no struggles, they are more susceptible to losing their faith altogether once they enter the world that does exist and begin to have doubts.

Tell our kids everything.

On the opposite extreme, there is the approach of telling our kids everything--divulging every doubt, voicing every struggle, living out every disagreement before the growing humans in our home. This, too, is unhelpful and can even be damaging. Kids are like sheep, not camels—it’s not their job to carry our junk around. The weight of every doubt, struggle, disagreement, and more is too much for them to bear.

There must be an approach somewhere in the middle of these extremes. An approach in which, from time to time, in the right moment, we allow our children into our struggles with faith. There’s no need to tell our children every struggle, and protecting them from every struggle would also be a disservice to them.

As we follow this middle approach, as we at the right time invite our kids into our struggles, we are teaching them that it is permissible to follow Jesus with a limp. We are modeling that our children are allowed to follow God and have struggles. And above all, we can live out the truth that God meets us in our doubts. He is present in our doubts. God knows us intimately, loves us beyond our comprehension, has the power to save us from our sins, and can certainly meet us in our doubts.

[Editor's Note: This blog post was adapted from a portion of the "Navigating Your Child's Education" podcast episode "Helping Our Kids Navigate Doubt," a conversation with theologian, pastor, professor, and author Dr. AJ Swoboda. His most recent book is called "After Doubt: How to Question Your Faith Without Losing it." To hear more of Dr. Swoboda's insight on parenting, doubt, and deconstruction, don't miss this episode.]

Worthington Christian School
Written by Worthington Christian School

Founded in 1973, Worthington Christian School (WC) is central Ohio’s leader in Christian education offering a rigorous, college preparatory kindergarten to 12-grade academic program, dedicated to developing the mind of Christ in students through rigorous intellectual, creative, and physical pursuits.