From the time we are old enough to form a question, we devote all our time and energy to finding the right answers. The devastation a child feels, from having the wrong answer when asked a question in front of their class, clarifies the importance of a right answer. Children ae pushed forward in a pursuit of knowledge as though finding the right answers guarantees success.
Answers are necessary. Right answers are preferable. But the right answer is only as valuable as the question is good. How many times did Jesus answer a question with a new question? Answers are important. But nver underestimate the power of learning to ask the right questions.
As we work with our children to help them move toward becoming healthy whole adults, we need to teach them the art of discernment. As important as finding a right answer is asking the right question. In His sermon on the mount Jesus challenged the accepted answers with “You have heard it said . . . but I say . . .” Perhaps it is time to challenge the acceptable questions with some new ones.
Many ask the question, “Do you believe?” Everyone believes in something. A better question would be, “On what or in whom have you entrusted your life?
Asking someone, “Who do you love?” is not a question that will change the way they live. Asking them, “How can you really love others without a selfish agenda?” could put them on a new path all together.
When we have been hurt in life, by false hope or in love by rejection from one who promised to be there for us no matter what, the questions in life change. The rubber meets the road in our lives when things happen that shake us at the core of our beliefs. It is then we learn to ask questions that produce answers that change the way we live. Let’s teach our children to ask the questions that matter so that as life happens they know how to maneuver through the storms.
Here are examples of questions that could help a child debrief their days:
Did someone say something that hurt you today? How did you handle that? Could you have done anything differently? Why do you think that person wanted to hurt you? How did that make you feel? Is that a normal feeling? What do you think can help you feel better so you can face this person again?
Did you say something that hurt someone today? How did they handle that hurt? How did that make you feel? Is that a normal feeling? What could you have done differently? Did you intentionally want to hurt them? How could you have handled that feeling you had toward them in a better less hurtful way? What will you do to resolve this problem?
Did you show someone a kindness today? How do you feel about their response? Can you make anyone respond the way you want them to? Does their response make your deed better? Can their response cancel out your good deed?
Day after day we have opportunities to ask questions and hear the hearts of our children as they struggle with tough relationships both inside and outside the home. Getting them to share their hearts by asking them specific questions and follow up questions will teach them the importance of debriefing themselves and their feelings.
Success is not about controlling what happens. Much of what happens is out of our control. Success comes in knowing how to respond in a healthy emotional manner to what happens.
For believers, every difficulty we face is an opportunity to stretch out our hands. Sadly, like a belligerent teenager we can stretch out our hands, stiffed armed in protest, pushing God away, blaming Him for our predicaments. If we know how to debrief our hearts with questions that remind us of Who He is we will want to stretch out our hands, clutch the heart of God, holding on to His promises and letting Him carry us through each difficulty.