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Nurturing Their Faith: Supporting Adult Children Who Are Questioning God

I have always loved praying for our kids, but now more than ever I treasure the time I can spend talking to God about how He is working in their adult lives.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Our faith journey is full of twists and turns. There are times of great joy and times of sorrow. Times when walking with God is easy and times when the walk is hard. Most of all, there are times of certainty and times of doubt. Because we’ve walked this path, we are often well equipped to support our adult children when they are questioning their faith.

When our kids don’t have wise people around to help process doubts, it’s easy to be led astray. Parents can either be those wise people, or we help our adult kids find others who will offer the insight they need.

  • We can affirm that questions and doubts are a common struggle all believers face.
  • We can be a sounding board and help them stay focused on what they know is true.
  • We can offer our own questions—and the answers we’ve discovered.
  • We can continue to love them even when their conclusions made lead them temporarily astray.

Ways to Support Our Adult Children When They’re Questioning Their Faith

This is the three-pronged method I use when praying for my adult children:

  • Pray first
  • Pray often
  • Pray with passion

Watching God take our kids from baby to grown and this gives me unique insight on how to pray for them. I exercise that insight daily, praying for the struggles I know they’re having and the struggles they might be facing.

When our kids share things for me to pray about, then I begin searching the Bible for specific verses to pray for them. There are a lot of examples in the Bible about people doubting. Each one of those is a unique opportunity to pray for my children.  

When they question their faith, affirm that questions and doubts are a common crossroad all believers face.

We don’t have to be Bible scholars to know that many of those in the Bible faced great times of doubt. I have yet to meet another believer who hasn’t had at least one time of doubt. As parents, it’s just as important to admit our failings and struggles as it is to show our strength and wisdom.

The Bible reflects this truth as Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians: But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV). We cannot be afraid of appearing vulnerable and less than perfect to our children. Sharing our own struggles will give God the opportunity to work in miraculous ways.

Sharing our own doubts can also keep our adult children from believing the lie that there’s something wrong with them because they are struggling with their faith. Doubting doesn’t make them bad Christians. We can emphasize this by nurturing their faith and helping them avoid that false guilt.

We can listen to the doubts they’re wrestling.

Listening feels like a passive endeavor. For me, listening without speaking is one of the hardest things I do—especially when someone I love is hurting. But giving the gift of hearing our adult children can be the one thing we do that takes the most strength and discipline. We can be tempted to offer answers before we understand the depth of what they’re facing and this can do much more harm than good.

I’ve found, on more than one occasion, that listening quietly has allowed my adult children to hear from God without me ever offering a word of advice. Sometimes just letting them talk will help them process and remember the truths about their faith that they already know.

I have to confess that I love being able to offer insight and help my adult child. But even more than appearing to have all the answers, I love it when they receive what they’re seeking directly from God.

I won’t always be here, and I certainly don’t have the answers to all the struggles they’ll face. But God is always there and He not only knows the answers—He knows the answer that will help them most. Supporting our adult children when they are questioning their faith by directing them to God is the greatest gift we can ever give them.

We can help them find other people who will offer wise advice.

Sometimes our adult children aren’t open to receiving advice from us. Rather than dwell in the hurt this brings, we can be proactive by helping them evaluate the best people to go to for advice. There are a lot of people in our world today offering advice—most of it contrary to God’s word. The process of teaching our adult children to evaluate where to go for advice can equip them now and for other struggles they may face later on.

We can show them the love of God as they navigate this difficult time.

This time of doubt can also be a time where we nurture their faith by showing them unconditional love. Our adult children can face times of doubting their faith for many reasons. But just the fact that they’ve allowed us to participate in some part of the journey is confirmation that they love and trust us. We must return that love and trust, no matter what the specifics of their circumstances are.

By showing them love—especially if they’re expecting condemnation—we immediately open up additional ways for God to work through us. 

When your adult begin questioning their faith, refrain from judging their struggles.

Unfortunately our adult children don’t always arrive at the conclusion we hope for. Our world often applauds those who go against God’s truth. The positive reinforcement can often lead our kids down a path that appears to take them farther from God. But I have learned I am not God. I don’t have His insight nor His wisdom. The things I judge as bad can frequently turn out as unexpected blessings. I can have faith that God is working in the lives of my adult children, no matter how far away from Him they seem to wander.

But I can shut down their willingness to hear me, and hinder God’s plan to use me if I give in to judgment and condemnation. When I feel like my kids are going astray I’ve learned to soften my voice and look for ways to love them more actively. Keeping the relationship between us strong will allow God to use me more fully in the plans He has for the faith journey of my kids.

When You are supporting adult children when they’re questioning their faith, you are the safe place.

Those instances when we’re no longer certain about our faith can be terrifying. As parents, we can provide a safe place for our adult kids to process these times. And we can often be used by God in powerful ways as we provide support for our adult children when they are questioning their faith.

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