One day my son told me that he didn't want to read his Bible anymore. Then he asked why he had to go to church and what the use of praying was. Welcome to the age of questioning, when children begin to ask the "why" questions. To some parents this might feel like a coup, but there comes a time when our kids need to discover how to make faith their own. According to Psychologist Dr. Kevin Leman, best-selling author of Have a New Kid by Friday: How to Change Your Child's Attitude, Behavior & Character in 5 Days, the important thing is not to become polarized against your child.
"When your son makes an observation like, there's a lot of geeks at church, don't discount his opinion. The worst thing is to comment, 'Why would you say a thing like that.'" Leman believes parents need to "keep it real," by acknowledging their child's perceptions about life, but at the same time insisting he stay true to the family values. "Remind your child that you as a parent really don't ask a lot, only do chores, finish homework, and go to church." Seems reasonable right?
Leman also reminds parents to take advantage of the natural inclination of most middle-school children to eavesdrop, by letting them overhear parent discussions. "I call them commercial announcements. When an event happens in life, let your children hear you discussing it. When an auto accident occurs that involves drinking, let them hear your take on it, and how you process it from God's perspective. You're children need to see and hear God in your life." For parents wanting to get more God into their child's life, here are some fun resources.
This is a great time to get your child into a regular devotion time. Fortunately, there are many devotional books available that present the Bible in fun and relevant ways.
Another characteristic about this age group is their love of games, so making Bible reading into a competition can be advantageous. One of the games my family and I liked to play was "Beat the Lie." I would come up with a false statement such as, "God won't forgive my sins," or "You have to be good enough to get into heaven," then they would use a Bible verse to prove me wrong.
A favorite game played at our church is Bible quizzing. Children sit in their seats and are asked trivia questions from Scripture. The first one who stands up with the correct answer wins points. This activity can be enjoyed at home by sending invitations to your child's friends with a list of study questions. Be ready for a fun night with pizza and prizes.
Because we live in a multimedia generation, I've listed a few items you might want to include in your child's biblical regimen.
Auto B Good children's DVDs, offered by Focus on the Family, feature the "animated adventures of the friendly cars from the City of Auto, blazing a path to lessons" on holding onto dreams, playing fair and the power of imagination.
The Bible Game (Playstation 2), by Crave Entertainment, tests your child's knowledge with quiz challenges and tests his skill with lots of action. It includes mini-game and micro-game challenges (20 total) based on inspirational biblical teachings including David and Goliath, Noah's Ark and others. There are 1,500 questions on the Old Testament and an energetic game show host. The multiplayer connection allows up to 4 players.
It's not too early to introduce your child to Christian music. Artists like Jump5, pureNRG, and Mission Six cater to the "tweenage" group (children ages 8-12), and offer positive messages about how to live a life committed to God.
Regardless of how your child chooses to study God's Word, an important goal is making sure she is equipped, knowing who to go to for the answers to life's most challenging questions.