Older children seem to be aware of unexplainable events in their life, events having spiritual or metaphysical overtones. They speak freely to an interested listener, with the attitude that it’s obvious there’s something out there. And they have ideas and questions about what that something might be. It is important to a young person to have adult engagement with their most difficult questions.
Adults can offer a calm presence.
Even though we may have no clue how to answer their specific question, we can offer a non-anxious presence — a certain comfort level with the contradictions and complexities of a preteen.
We also offer understanding when they share their outlook:
There’s a lot of time I think I don’t really necessarily believe there’s life after death right now. I’m pondering, toying around with the idea that once you die it’s done, which would put the end to the point of belief right? But at the same time there’s this nagging, well if it is true, I’m screwed.
If a caregiver has a clear belief system…
…we can suggest an answer to a child’s questions in alignment with that belief system, although it’s still a good idea to hear the child out and not try to force your own opinions.
A framework is useful when adults aren’t sure what they believe.
The obvious challenge arises if a caregivers aren’t sure what they believe themselves.What then? Although saying “I have no idea” to an adult is a perfectly fine response, that can be unsettling to a child because it does not provide a safe boundary.
You might consider responses such as:
- “Some people think X, others think Y.” “What do you think?”
- Or “That’s a great question. Let’s explore that together and figure it out,” followed by an Internet search, a trip to the library and/or some other sources of information.
- Something to consider when a child’s spiritual questions arise and we’re not sure what we believe ourselves. Click to Tweet.
- Saying “I have no idea” to an adult is okay, but can be unsettling to a child asking about God. Go here for ideas. Click to Tweet