I’ve heard it over and over. I’ve even thought it myself. I remember specifically reading the book Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans from HBL D. As I was reading about human sacrifice, I remember looking over at my fourth grader and praying that it wasn’t too much for his sensitive heart to handle.
Honestly, I would never have dreamed of even letting him watch Scooby Doo. He was just too sensitive to fearful things. I have to admit that I questioned my curriculum choice as I was reading that passage. But then, I looked up from the book to find him ready with questions. That passage led to rich discussion about the evil that is at work in our world, the sin nature that plagues all of us, and the fact that because of our faith in Jesus Christ, we can be a light of hope in the world.
After that conversation, I was sold. I am so thankful, too. Those early conversations were the beginning of a decade of good, tough conversations.
One of the most common concerns I see in Sonlight circles is the tough content of many of the books included in the curriculum. Here’s why our children need us to explore these difficult topics and not avoid them.
1. We Talk About It So We Don’t Fear It
If you’ve ever thought about it, you’ll probably find that most of our fears come from the unknown. It’s the same with children. Their imaginations are so incredibly vivid that they can quickly turn something ordinary into something fearful, but we have to diligently teach them that God is bigger than all the evil in the world.
I always chuckle to myself when someone claims that parents who homeschool are sheltering their children. I don’t think discussing human sacrifice and radiation poisoning from an atomic bomb necessarily qualifies for leading a sheltered life. Discussing these scary topics in a safe place can help your child learn the reality that evil exists, but it doesn’t win. God always shines through somewhere. I love how Sonlight books are so good at both telling the story and showcasing the hope.
Because of the years of Sonlight education, our children have been exposed to the evil that exists in our world, but they’ve also been introduced to people who were brave enough to oppose it and be a light among the evil. They have learned that God is sovereign, and He is always at work in every situation. They have learned that we do not fear the evil, because Jesus has overcome it. That’s why we read about tough topics early...it’s never too early to learn that God wins.
“For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind.”2 Timothy 1:7
2. If They Don’t Hear It From Us, They Will Hear It From Someone Else
Have you ever realized that your child was the unfortunate recipient of bad information from a peer? It happens to all of us at some point, but for us, it serves as a reminder that we want our children learning about tough topics from us...not from their peers.
When our children feel that they have to get information from peers, it is inevitable that they will receive misinformation, possibly from a flawed worldview. That’s why they need to know that we aren’t afraid of their questions and curiosities. They need to know that we are willing to tackle tough topics and occasionally wade through murky waters right alongside them when we aren’t sure of the right answer.
Our children can ask us anything, and they know that they will get an honest, complete answer, to the best of our ability. It is our prayer that as they get older, this open communication will continue, and they will know that they can trust us with their questions about life.
3. They Crave Truth
Kids are naturally inquisitive. Spend five minutes with a child, and you’ll likely find yourself answering a battery of questions. You’ll probably also find that they crave truth. I don’t know about your kids, but mine can sniff out a half-truth from me quicker than anyone else I know. They do not settle for a cheap or pat answer.
I have been thoroughly explaining questions for as long as I can remember. In fact, when my kids were young, sometimes I would find myself feeling bad after giving them a very clear, thorough explanation of a tough topic. However, they were always able to handle the truth, and through that process of discussing tough topics, they learned that my husband and I could be trusted to give them truth all the time, to the best of our ability.
4. They Can Handle More Than We Think
Kids aren’t stupid. Let me repeat that. Kids aren’t stupid.
They can handle more than we think. I would actually say that we risk patronizing our children when we refuse to take on tough topics with them. While children may need topics to be simplified to a degree, most children want their parents to treat them with respect, always being clear and forthright about tough topics.
I can remember being in a store with my oldest son. I was pushing a grocery cart, and he was young because I remember him sitting in the top part of the cart. He asked me one of those tough questions, and I immediately launched into a pretty in-depth explanation. I don’t remember what we discussed that day, but I remember the incident, because I remember suddenly feeling eyes on me. I looked around and saw that a few people shopping around me were looking at me like I was crazy, having that in depth of an explanation to such a young boy. But that’s just the way we’ve lived our life with our kids. And I’m incredibly thankful, although I did realize that maybe the grocery store isn’t the place to tackle challenging subjects!
5. It Gives Us Opportunities To Deliver the Gospel
Almost every conversation we have with our children could be wrapped up in a few bullet points:
- Evil exists because Adam and Eve sinned in the garden
- Given the opportunity, we would have done the same
- But God is in control of all things and He has a plan
- His plan is Jesus, who paid for all of our sins through His death on the cross
- Because of God’s perfect plan to send Jesus, we have forgiveness of our sins
- Because of this, we have hope and long for the day when we are made whole again
Every difficult conversation has these common threads. So, if you tackle a few tough subjects every time you read a book, you’ll be delivering the Gospel over and over.
So here’s what I would say to every new parent:
Read the tough books.
Have the hard conversations.
Give truth, every time.
Deliver the Gospel.
If you do this, you will find that these conversations will become a firm foundation for your relationship with your child. You will build trust and mutual respect. You will bond over these conversations, and they will continue on into their teenage and adult years.