Pastor’s kids never doubt, right? Wrong! I have seven kids and every one of them, at one time or another, has struggled with doubt. Most of them have struggled with big doubts, the deep questions we all struggle with. They have asked them, wrestled with them, and, in some cases, are still wrestling.
There are a lot of things in this world that make you doubt. Sadly, there are a lot of things even in Christianity today that make you doubt. Sometimes, the fact that PK’s are closer to all the struggles, failures, and fumbles of the church means the doubts hit them harder!
I can’t count the times I have looked at one of my kids expressing his or her doubt and thought to myself, “I have no idea what to say to you.” So, from a fellow-struggling parent, here are a few tips for walking with your kids through doubt.
- Avoid thinking you are going to “fix it.”
Forget the idea that you are going to offer the perfect solution with one big idea, one big conversation, or by handing them a book. In fact, avoid the mindset that you are going to “fix them” or “fix their doubts” altogether. Who wants to get “fixed?” When our kids struggle, we have an opportunity to sit with them and acknowledge the reality that life often includes hard struggles. In short, think of doubt as an opportunity to build relationally, not to fix a problem.
- At all costs, avoid expressing disappointment or frustration with your kids’ struggles.
The last thing they need is to feel guilt, shame, or a sense of failure as they wrestle through deep soul searching. Admit it. You have doubts too! It is a normal part of our Christian experience. It does not help your kids to act as though you never struggle or doubt.
- Do a lot more listening than talking.
Often, one of the biggest keys to our kids overcoming doubt is allowing them to verbalize their thoughts. Simply hearing yourself express doubts and struggles goes a long way towards seeing your assumptions for what they are. The more you hear them actually talking about their doubts, the better.
- Assure them that doubt is normal—even healthy and positive.
Assure them that as they grow and mature, one natural way for them to internalize and own their faith is to work through struggles. Assure them you are not afraid of them asking hard questions, because there are really good answers. Assure them that you probably do not know all the answers, but you are very happy to help them find them.
C.H. Spurgeon once said, “I doubt the man who never doubts.” In other words, anyone who looks honestly at the pain and suffering of the world, the failures and hypocrisy of some in the church, and the deep issues of sin, salvation, law, and grace, will find himself swimming in deep waters. Ultimately, it is the powerful work of the Holy Spirit that will bring our kids through their struggles and doubts. The best thing we can do is to keep our hope fixed on His work and wait with expectation as our kids work through their doubts.
By Allan Sherer