97956_5578 Easter1All of us reached adolescence with childhood beliefs, values and morals that needed evaluation.

Beliefs enter a child’s mind and get established in the mental operating system* without a healthy evaluation of the basis for the belief. In a child’s brain, the ability to reason is not yet fully developed.

When children reach adolescence with little attention given to their childhood beliefs….

  • We may hear something like this boy’s explanation: “Faith is believing what you know isn’t so.”
  • They are less likely to come to parents, now preferring peers and those outside of the family.

Take Easter–the resurrection of Jesus Christ–for instance.

557292_94217112 Easter2

Christianity maintains that Jesus died on a cross and three days later, came back to life and was seen by multiple eyewitnesses.

I suspect that for many of the 2 billion people who identify as Christians, this doctrine remains a hard-to-understand mystery. Some older children may leave Sunday’s Easter Service concluding that the resurrection is incomprehensible and therefore nonsense.

Preteens beginning to evaluate their beliefs usually want our assistance:

  1. Begin by listening intently to the child’s belief. Clarify until you can precisely express the child’s belief back to him (and the child says “yes, that’s it”).
  2. Use the same active listening to unpack the child’s conflict, doubt, question about their belief–so that you can state it precisely and the child says, “yes, that’s it.”
  3. Brainstorm options for checking the accuracy of the belief–resurrection–in our example (weigh evidence from science, history):
    1. Talk to trustworthy people who see the issues from different perspectives.
    2. Search the Internet: evidence for resurrection
    3. Find a workshop, seminar, documentary, book
  4. Ask, “Which option is best for you?”

By allowing the child to own their choice you teach them how to approach doubts and questions when you aren’t around.

*to borrow a phrase from psychiatrist Timothy Jennings.