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Sep
20
2013

kid tree

Photo by SUPC on www.sxc.hu

My kids are little testers. I have one that tests gravity by using the tops of swing sets (and occasionally house roofs) as balance beams, one that tests every warning for accuracy (including licking a pan to verify that it truly is hot like Mom said), and one that wants proof of biblical teachings. Three different kids, three forms of testing, and all of them make my heart smile.

My three amigos

I call my kids my three amigos. They are active enough that they’ve scared off several babysitters, but I have gone out of my way to create an environment in which hands-on learning and interaction is encouraged. They cook with me, clean with me, play with me, and they climb trees whenever they can. They get scrapes, bruises, and burns. In fact we consider scabs and raspberries to be a good thing because they mean my kids have done something besides sit in front of a TV. My daughter shows them off with great pride, “and I got this one when I jumped off the swing set!”

My kids want to prove everything for themselves. Yes, they really DO get hurt from jumping off the top of a 2-story object, yes that red light on the stovetop really DOES means that it’s hot, and yes when I say that you can’t do something there really WILL be consequences to making a bad choice.

The other side of the coin

Having encouraged this scientific method approach to life, I knew we were in for a treat when we started more intense Bible story time in the evenings. My kids want proof. And guess what… some of those stories just don’t have proof. That’s what makes it faith.

In explaining that concept to my kids, I started with Billy Graham’s “effects of the wind” example, and then I taught them about Doubting Thomas. We even encourage them to tell us what their thoughts are, what they have a doubt about, and what they find completely absurd. My husband and I vocalize our own doubts also.

Encouraging doubts

While there may be a collective gasp among traditional Christians, I think promoting doubting about faith in kids is a good thing. There are too many people that adopt their parents’ faith without question and then the slightest splinter of doubt can cause their “faith” to crash. We fill their brain with Bible memorization and expect that to be as affective at warding off “evil” as bike helmets are at warding off fast moving pavement. It doesn’t work that way. I would much prefer my kids to build their own foundation of faith. I want them to test the idea of Noah’s Ark to the same degree that they test gravity, hot stoves, and parental limits. To me, when you mix personal evidence in with biblical teaching, it becomes less about faith and more about undeniable personal truths.

Their truths may not match mine exactly, and that’s ok. What matters is that they take the journey.


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