We happened to be staying in a hotel the same day that the recent bombing at the Boston Marathon happened. The next morning, my wife and I helped our 5 year old and 21 month old get their food from the breakfast dining area, then got our own food while one of us was holding our infant. We were all excited for the breakfast spread at the hotel and were just starting to enjoy it when a morning news program began blaring in the dining area. All eyes were on the TV, trying to hear the latest news about the explosions. We couldn’t turn it off. Getting down there and getting back upstairs was no easy task–impossible to imagine going in reverse with food in our hands–so we sat there for a few minutes trying to distract our 5 year old, until he asked if there were any kids hurt in the explosion. We gathered them up quickly and headed back upstairs with our food, little ones and food both in our hands.
Because of the ages of our children, we don’t listen to the news while they’re awake at home, or in the car anymore. But this week my 5 year old and 21 month old saw images of explosions while out in public, and last week my son asked me why men can’t marry other men because he saw two men once that “looked married.” This is where Deuteronomy 6:6-7 comes into play while also asking the Lord for wisdom: “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
Sometimes as you walk through life your young kids will ask you questions that you are not prepared to answer, and that they may not be ready to hear a full answer to. I won’t pretend to be able to do this perfectly, but we can balance giving them an appropriate answer that brings God’s Word to the issue while also not telling them things that are too much for them right now. For example, I was able to give my son a concise answer about marriage that seemed appropriate for his age, by simply telling him that God made marriage for a man and a woman only. He asked more about it, but I told him that was all he needed to know right now. As he gets older, we will have longer discussions about relevant issues like marriage and explosions.
Corrie Ten Boom illustrates this well (from The Hiding Place) with a story of how her father answered a question she asked when she was young:
He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the rack over our heads, and set it on the floor.
“Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he said.
I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.
“It’s too heavy,” I said.
“Yes,” he said. “And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.
Don’t you love how parenting makes you beg God for wisdom? Lord, give us wisdom to teach our children biblical principles when they come across hard issues in this world, while also knowing what their young minds can and cannot handle.