Yesterday at my moms' group, we were talking about how to teach your kids about God. Most of the girls at my table have younger children than mine, so the talk revolved around story Bibles and object lessons.
We did a lot of those things when the girls were younger, and they made an impact. But as I listened to the conversation around me, I realized that most of those days are behind us. We've moved past the easy lessons about how God loves us and cares for us. Now, we're into those years where the questions get harder, and the answers aren't quite so easy either.
As our kids get older, we have to move from Bible stories and small lessons to conversations about the bigger stuff. We have to start helping our kids learn to apply what they know to their own lives. We have to encourage them to think for themselves and to ask questions. Because kids who don't have questions about God and His role in their lives are kids who never make their faith their own.
I wish it were as easy as it was when my kids were little, when their faith in what I had to say was unwavering. But as my kids grow, I find myself saying "I don't know; let's investigate that" a whole lot more. I often find myself praying for wisdom to grab the teachable moment and teach the right thing.
And those moments? They don't come nearly as frequently as they did when my girls were at my side 24/7. I find I have to seek out moments to talk with my older daughter because she's busy with sports and friends. Her time with me is a lot less than it once was. I love that she can now sit in the front seat because she's almost as tall as me (which I don't like nearly as much as I like having her in the front seat) because it means that we can have more conversations than trying to talk over the seat of the car.
As our kids grow, we have to be even more aware of the moments that we can use to teach them because those moments aren't quite as frequent as they used to be. We have to be careful not to get so caught up in the busyness of life that we miss the teachable moments. And we have to be willing to go deeper with our answers.
Our kids are smart. They have minds of their own. If our kids ask us a question, we need to be able to help them find the answers, especially if that question is about God. But we also need to teach them to study the Bible on their own. We need to teach them how to find their own answers. That can only happen if we're willing to stop when they have a question and show them how to find the answer.
We can't keep giving our kids milk as they get older when they're ready for solid food. It's like Paul says: "Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil" (Hebrews 5:13-14). We want our kids to be spiritually mature, so as they grow, we have to be willing to provide them with solid spiritual food.
What are you giving your kids? Are you still feeding your older kids simple Biblical truths when they're ready for something more? Evaluate what you're teaching your kids about God and whether it's appropriate for their spiritual maturity level. If it's not, make some changes to give your kids more solid spiritual food.