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My eight-year-old son asks a lot of questions. I mean, A LOT. He didn’t even ask this many when he was four.
Only, he’s not just asking questions so much for the sake of knowledge anymore. They’re more like challenges.
8-12-year-olds no longer accept what their parents say at face value like they did when they were younger. They may push back, argue, or directly question our reasoning and commands. While it can be exhausting at times, it’s actually a positive part of their faith development. It means they’ve grown past blind acceptance and are ready for deeper understanding.
Our kids are seeking answers and unfortunately if we don’t have them, the world will be all too willing to provide those responses. You should be your tween’s primary source of information, rather than their teachers, peers, social media, and television.
Several years ago, I heard More Than A Carpenter author Josh McDowell give this startling statistic: nearly half of all Americans who come to Christ do so before reaching the age of thirteen (43%). And the probability of a person accepting Jesus as their saviour after thirteen? Just 4 percent.
We’d assume that 14-year-olds still have plenty of time to come to Christ. But by that age, they have already formed a lifelong worldview. The real work has already been done – at a much younger age.
That’s why we need to equip our kids with a biblical worldview while they’re still tweens. These years are crucial for establishing an unshakable foundation of faith in them. Our tweens don’t only need to know what they believe, but also why they believe it. Here are some tips to help you do this:
Saturate your home with God’s Word.
In Deuteronomy 6:5-7, we find this commandment given to parents:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
Verse 7 implies that we should be instructing our children biblically throughout the day. Don’t abdicate your responsibility for your child’s training in Scripture to their Sunday School teacher or Jr. High Youth Group Leader.
Instead of making the Bible something we read together once a day, it needs to become something we live. We should be integrating biblical truths into each of our children’s daily activities, struggles, and school subjects, and providing biblical reasons for why we do what we do. Get your tween to hide the Scriptures in their heart by having them copy, memorize, and sing them. Use the Proverbs to converse with them during moments of correction. Involve your kids in service opportunities and find a fitting verse for each project.
Most of all, help your child establish his or her own morning devotional time.
It’s not good enough to rely exclusively on devotionals, though. Our tweens need the meat of the Word, and a lot of devotionals on the market today are just fluff.
Have them read a chapter per day of the Bible and then write a summary of what they’ve just read. It also helps if they jot down one or two sentences about how they can personally apply what they learned to their own lives. Both of these things will get your tween in the habit of meditating on and digesting God’s Word.
While they’re still developing this routine, offer to get on the same reading plan with them. It’s vital that our kids understand how all those books of the Bible fit together in the larger context of God’s design, so I would recommend a read through the Bible in one year plan to start out with. Set aside a specific time of day to share and discuss what each of you has learned and pray about it. You’ll be amazed after a while at your child’s insight!
Without thoroughly knowing what God’s Word says and how to read it on their own, your tween’s spiritual development will be significantly compromised. They’ll learn to depend on what other people tell them about Christianity, whether it’s true or not.
Expose them to secular views.
Wait, didn’t I say our kids need a biblical worldview? Just bear with me a moment. In order to defend their faith, tweens need to investigate the various worldviews that are going to challenge that faith.
They need a strong knowledge of beliefs like Marxism, Nihilism, Islam, and the one that dominates our culture- and their schools– Secular Humanism. It is essential that they know how all of these different worldviews stack up against the claims of Christianity.
By exposing them to secular views, without any presuppositions they may learn from school and entertainment sources, you’ll be inoculating them against these viewpoints. You will be preparing them to make a defense, or apologetic, to everyone who asks for an account of the hope that is within them (1 Peter 3:15).
Laying the foundation for a biblical worldview involves training our tweens to “examine everything carefully”. They should be able to think critically without simply buying into the commonly accepted beliefs of our day. Help them evaluate the types of media they watch, read, and listen to by asking questions like:
- are they full of sexual content, immodesty, violence, language, or disrespect?
- do they portray elements of the occult that includes fortune telling, magic, casting spells, vampires, or witches that are cast as “good”?
- which spiritual slant do they show- New Age, Eastern Meditation, etc.?
- are they historically and scientifically accurate, or do they present an evolutionary view and a revisionist telling of history?
Create a culture in your home that leaves room for asking questions about the authenticity of Christianity. Don’t be afraid of saying, “I don’t know,” but don’t leave it there! Seek out the answers together with your children. Both Apologia and Answers For Kids have great resources on apologetics that are tailored specifically for the tween age group.
Make Jesus the center of your family.
He has to come first in everything. Your tweens might resist it, but they will know whether Christ is merely a spoke of your family’s wheel instead of the hub.
Your home cannot revolve around work, sports, school, or extracurricular activities to the exclusion of God and church. It needs to hinge on God and His plan for your family. Growing up in that kind of an environment will have a profound effect on the shaping of your tween’s actions, behavior, and choices.
When they’re used to basing every decision on God’s will, those things that “all the other kids” are doing won’t seem as important. Lying about who they’re hanging out with or keeping secrets from you won’t be as tempting.
The most surefire way to help our tweens become kingdom-minded and Christ-centered is for us to overflow with those qualities.
What ways do you equip your children with a biblical worldview? Share in the comments below!
Did you miss the other days of the Tween Parenting Blog Party? Check them out here!
Marisa is a homeschooling mom of two and author of Bucking The System: Reclaiming Our Children’s Minds For Christ, published in January 2016. She writes to encourage women to find purpose and joy in their God-given calling as mothers, helping them raise children with a biblical worldview. She relies on Jesus and coffee to get her through the day, and loves marveling at the cultural differences between New Jersey where she grew up and Oklahoma where her family has been transplanted! You can find more of her writings over on Called to Mothering where she has a passion for Equipping Moms To Fulfill The Great Commission At Home!