How do we build discernment in our kiddos?
Discerning Whales from Hyenas
So, my kiddo came home from school one day saying that whales were related to hyenas.
Yes, insert confusion on everyone’s face.
He was adamant and even knew what the pre-evolutionary whale’s name was, Pakicetus. (Say that five times fast)
My 12-year-old was offended and set to arguing with his seven-year-old brother. While I completely agreed with the twelve-year-old’s scientific argument, I put a hard stop to the conversation.
And to my eldest’s surprise, we started walking through what my youngest had heard at school, allowing my youngest to express his point. Then eventually compared it with what the Bible says and the differences between Facts and Theories.
Now, I could launch into a HUGE debate for a Creation mindset over an Evolution theory.
Start with how we must as parents fight between what is said at school and what is said in the Bible.
Both are soap boxes I enjoy, but what I want to land this week is on:
How do we build discernment in our kiddos?
I know trying to force them to see things my way will only push them away from me and the Biblical Ideals I hold dear, not just on the subject of evolution, but on any other that might come down the pipeline.
What I do want to incorporate into our home is open lines of communication on any topic. I want my kids to feel valued and intelligent because they are allowed to think for themselves. My twelve-year-old likes this but is not always the best at demonstrating this.
So how do we start building in the ability to think comprehend and compare with the truth?
First, we can’t be afraid of our culture.
I think we can all agree our culture has shifted away from God in so many ways. So many that fear is often my first reflex to new ideas or events in our culture. But God has grown in me the idea that conflict is an opportunity, and a loving conversation leads to understanding. I tell my kids all the time, the most loving thing you can do is to listen to someone. So, we have to be ready, as 1 Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts revere Christ as LORD. Always be prepared to answer everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
So, we as parents have to be ready to handle the hard questions of our kids, because they are being faced with many hard questions as they try to navigate both their childhood and our culture.
Second, Take the time to Explore the idea.
This is where my twelve-year-old struggled in the above situation of Whales and Hyenas.
My little seven-year-old was wide-eyed and giddy about this information he watched at school. It sparked his interest, and he was so excited to share it with us. If I had responded with, ‘No you’re wrong’, I would have communicated things that aren’t true about him and how I view him. His thoughts could have gone to my thoughts and ideas don't matter to my mom. And that is not the case. I want to hear what gets my kids excited. I want to understand and if I'm able to join in with them. Hence why I know more than I should about Pokemon.
Third, Ask Questions –
Giving out kids time to think, process, and be able to defend their ideas, helps them feel valued. In the process, they are forced to think about what they think about a topic.
I love the questions from Pat Fenner at Breaking Through Homeschooling
What's the message here? Is it true?
What happens when you do/think such and such? (Extrapolate the situation to the end...)
What does the Bible teach about that?
What would you say is the theme? Does it reflect the truth? Does it reflect reality?
What do you think God's opinion would be of this movie/book? Why?
What do you think is the author/writer's opinion of God, based on what we've just seen/read?
What might happen if you copied the main character's lifestyle and/or choices?
Do the choices the characters make seem plausible or make sense? What do you think the consequences would be in real life?
Fourth, Check Your Worldview.
What is informing your decisions? What's informing your beliefs about God filters how you approach and think about the world and those around you. There is so much written about worldview, and it is unconditional to developing discernment: our worldview is the filter through which we will discern the truth.
Fifth, Seek God in Prayer.
James 1:5-7 "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the LORD."
Demonstrating how to turn to when the world throws grey areas that are hard to navigate, let’s be sure to show our kids where truth is found.
Being humble and reliant on God in front of our kids is an example that speaks louder than words.
Our kids are exposed to so many ideas and viewpoints that it's important to teach them to discern truth from lies. The sooner we have conversations the stronger our kid's understanding of where truth can be found and how to process questions through a biblical worldview will be.