“Mom, have you ever lied to us?”
I paused for a long moment, a bit shocked by the question my oldest son had just asked me as we drove into town several weeks ago. My mind rapidly began flipping through mental files, still frames of memories flashing one after another, each one, a moment where I had a choice to lie. Finally, the slideshow going on in my head rested at one memory, about 7 years ago.
Isaac was two years old, and we were in the car, on one of our many long trips to see Tim at one of his military trainings. We had been chatting about Tim being a soldier, but his next question at the ripe age of two, caught me completely off guard.
“Momma, could Daddy get hurt in a war?”
My heart sank as I contemplated the answer to this tough question from my toddler who was barely old enough to speak the thought clearly. At that point, we knew about Tim’s upcoming deployment to Iraq, and I knew that my answer here mattered. While I wanted desperately to give the easy answer of, “No, of course not,” I knew that this was a defining moment of my motherhood. In that split second, I made the decision to always be truthful, no matter how hard the question. So, I took a deep breath and I said, “Yes. Daddy could get hurt in war. But you know, Isaac, we trust in God, and we believe that God is good all the time, whether things are good or bad. God will always take care of us, no matter what happens.” I braced myself for Isaac’s response, which I imagined would be either uncontrollable crying or the start of another chain of questioning that I wasn’t prepared for, but he only said, “OK,” and went back to his toy. Somehow, he was able to rest in the security of truth.
It was that conversation that partly shaped the way I parent. Since then, I’ve fielded many, many other questions from, “Why did ______ happen?” to “Why did my birth mother have to give me up?” So, when the question, “Mom, have you ever lied to us?” came, and I flipped through my mental filing cabinet, I was grateful to be able to say, “Isaac, if I have ever lied to any of you, I didn’t know it. I can’t think of a single instance where I haven’t told you the truth. I’ve always done my best to be 100% honest with you.” And his response was, “I didn’t think you had.” At that moment, I was incredibly thankful that years ago, God lead me to choose truth.
That’s why I really appreciated Brian Dollar’s book, Talk Now and Later. As a children’s pastor of a large church right here in my home state of Arkansas, Brian has years of experience in ministering to families. One of the principles that he is passionate about is parents talking to their children. And not only talking to them, but being proactive and intentional about it.
So many times, we tend to feel that children are “too young” or “not mature enough” to handle tough topics, but Brain reminds us that if your child isn’t talking to you about the tough topics, you can be sure they are talking to someone else, most likely their peers. And we all know how that can go! While Brian does emphasize that we should talk to our children in an age appropriate way, he also encourages us not to “dumb down” our answers and cautions us against believing that our children can’t grasp difficult concepts.
I was personally encouraged and challenged by Talk Now and Later because while I’ve always been open and truthful to my kids, I don’t know that I’m super proactive on certain subjects. I definitely tend to procrastinate. Brain’s knowledge not only encouraged me to be more proactive, but also equipped me with the right words to tackle the really sticky subjects like sex and death.
One of my favorite excerpts of Talk Now and Later is about how we tend to want to let children’s pastors and youth pastors take care of these subjects for us, but it’s really our job. It’s our job to lead our children spiritually. Here’s what Brian has to say about this:
We have hijacked the spiritual development of kids by promoting the idea that a “professional children’s minister” is the only qualified, competent person to speak spiritual truth into children’s lives. To some degree, we’ve developed a “savior complex” elevating our roles as the highest and best source of spiritual input for kids. Though we didn’t plan it, this perspective lowered parents to second-class status. Ultimately, we became a hindrance to God’s plan. Here’s the truth: God’s plan is for parents to be the primary spiritual leaders of their children.
I am so thankful that my son has felt comfortable enough with me to ask me tough questions, like “Have you ever lied to us Mom?” I think we are on a good path, but it’s a constant battle to keep the lines of communication open, especially as my boys approach their teenage years. I was so impressed by Brian’s book for that reason. It gives some truly wonderful tools for parents to utilize so that they can be proactive in prioritizing communication. I would very highly recommend Talk Now and Later to any parent who desires to improve in their communication with their children. It is so important.
You can check out Brian’s book on Amazon by clicking here. He also has an awesome Children’s Ministry blog where he writes with experience and wisdom. I would love for you to check it out by clicking HERE. I rarely hang on to books once I’ve read them, but this is one that I will keep handy and reference often.
Want your very own copy? Great, because today, I’m giving away a SIGNED copy of Brian Dollar’s book Talk Now and Later! Just click here to head to my Facebook page. Then, click the “Giveaway” tab to grab up to 8 entries! Giveaway closes on Sept. 8th.
So, I’d love to hear from you now! What’s the most difficult question your child has ever asked you?