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How to Respond When Your Child Asks You Questions You Can’t Answer

How to Respond When Your Child Asks You Questions You Can’t Answer

So your kid comes up to you and asks, “Dad, how do we know there’s a God?”

And you . . . freeze.

You say something like “Because I believe there’s a God,” or “We just know,” or “Because there is,” or “Because the Bible says God exists.”

Then your kid does what every kid does: he asks you another question.

A tough one. Like Why?

The little-kid routine of asking why seventeen times in a row can really expose how little you know as an adult.

Then, in your mind, you fast forward a couple of years, and your middle-schooler is asking about dinosaurs, the Big Bang, and Confucius, and you start to have a nervous breakdown.

So, how do you respond?

Here are five principles that have helped me navigate faith and questions not only from my kids but also from my experience as a pastor of a local church:

1. Don’t assume curiosity is skepticism.

One of the impulses every Christian parent feels is that questions automatically lead to disbelief.

No, they don’t. Not automatically.

Actually, great questions can lead to deeper belief.

But it’s just way too easy to assume that curiosity is skepticism.

Curiosity is not skepticism. It’s curiosity.

2. Don’t dismiss the question with trite answers.

One of the worst things you can do is answer any faith question with a simplistic answer like, “Well, we just have to believe,” or “Because it’s true.”

I’ve done that before. Not helpful.

Your eight-year-old suspects two things when you answer that way:

Christianity doesn’t stand up to questions or advanced thinking.
There are actually no answers to his question.

Both are mistakes.

3. Don’t over-answer the question.

An equally bad response is to show up the next day with a dozen theology textbooks and a scheduled Skype interview with one of the world’s foremost Old Testament professors.

That’s a bit of overkill for your eight-year-old or even your teenager.

So, what should you do?

Answer the question at the level the questioner is asking it.

Your daughter may just want to know that you believe, and an honest, “You know honey, there are a lot of reasons to believe in God—I’ve experienced Him myself, personally…and that’s one of the reasons I believe,” might be a great response.

Your daughter might just say, “Thanks.” Or she might ask another question, which you could then answer.

In the teen years, you might do a Bible or book study together.

Don’t under-answer a question, or over-answer it.

4. Don’t assume answers will satisfy the questioner.

I have a seminary degree. And a law degree. I can research things half decently. And I’m an okay preacher.

I’ve done sermons where I have researched my head off and preached my heart out on the subject of why a good God allows bad things to happen, only to have someone ask me a few days later “So…why do you think God allows bad things to happen?”

In those moments, I want to scream.

But those moments teach me something.

Often, people aren’t actually looking for an intellectual answer.

Instead, their question is coming out of their personal story.

So, flip the conversation. Question the questioner as Ravi Zacharias says.

Ask them why they ask.

The person asking the question might tell you his wife is sick and they can’t find a cure.

Or your third-grader son might say, “I want to know why that one kid in our class gets picked on all the time.”

Then go have a conversation about that.

5. Make your home a great place to raise doubts.

Remember that your kids will eventually have doubts.


Because you do. Because I do. Because we all do.

Faith is not the absence of doubts. It’s the presence of belief in the midst of doubt.

In her research, Dr. Kara Powell has discovered that the biggest reason kids, who grew up in the church, leave the church is not doubt. It’s unexpressed doubt.

If you make your home a place where questions aren’t welcome, your kids are going to take their questions elsewhere.

And where will they take them? Probably to a place that won’t give them the answers you’re hoping for.

So, decide ahead of time as a parent that you won’t freak out when your kid questions you and questions God. Or your teenager tells you that Christianity isn’t different than any other religion.

Thank them for the question. Explore it with them. Ask them questions. And reach out to a wider circle of influence that can help them process what they’re going through.

Make your home a safe place where doubts can be expressed. You just might foster belief as a result.

Those are five things that have helped me navigate the tension every parent and every church leader feels.

What’s helped you? Let us know in the comments below!

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Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is the lead pastor of Connexus Church and author of several books, including Parenting Beyond Your Capacity (with Reggie Joiner) and his latest book, "Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow." Carey speaks to church leaders around the world about leadership and parenting. He writes one of the most widely read church leadership blogs at and hosts the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast where he interviews top leaders each week.



    I’m currently experiencing this situation with my 7yo daughter. I try very hard to teach them about and live our lives for Jesus. She keeps saying she doesn’t think she believes in God or that Jesus died on the cross. She thinks prayers are just words and don’t mean or do anything. While I try to remain calm and not just assume I’ve already lost the battle, I’m scared and don’t know how to help her. I (probably incorrectly) say to her, “I think you do believe, you’re just wondering or having doubts.” She’s in tears about it anytime it comes up. I tell her we have to pray about it – that she just has to have faith. She’s talked to her children’s pastor & he told her similar things. I just don’t know how to help her! Prayer and letting her come to God on her own. But she wants me to help her & I don’t know what else to say.


      I would suggest sharing (with confidence if you can) that it’s okay, even good, to question, because God is big enough to reach us wherever we are; and being honest about our feelings, wrestling with our doubts, gives God an opportunity to reveal Himself. Then share (age appropriate) your own experience with similar questions/ doubts and God’s faithfulness in your life. Make God real to him/her through your own life.


      I don’t have a lot of answers for you, Karen. I think I’d say, less eloquently, a lot of the stuff that Carey says above.

      All I can say is that I’ll be praying for you and yours– for wisdom, for perseverance– the whole deal. [And please pray for me and mine.]


      I’ve dealt with something similar. I suggest reading with her the kids versions of Case for Christ, Case for Faith, and Case for Grace all by Lee Strobel. Those books saved me and it was great because we spend the evenings together reading them and talking about his doubts. It actually brought us closer.

      Also there a lot of kids books that helps parents navigate doubt questions. We also have If I Could Ask God Anything.


      Karen, first of all continual prayer for your little one is vital. I would suggest you challenge her to pray and ask Jesus to reveal himself to her in a way that she will know that He is real. Tell her that it will not be in her terms, but on God’s term and His way. Also, she has to put her part by expecting Jesus to show up. I have faith that she will become a woman of great faith!


    Do you know of any resources to help kids who are questioning and seeking answers as to their faith and why we believe? My son is at this stage and is asking great questions in an attempt to make his faith his own. His questions center around evolution vs. creation and other religions. Any resources geared toward kids would be helpful, thanks!


      Have you checked out Reasons to Believe ( They have so much wonderful information on how science and faith fit together. I love how they take a high view of scripture and have real scientists sharing articles. As an aerospace engineer, I struggled with this topic too and RTB was a huge blessing to me and my family.


    First time moms would surely experience this problem in no time. Thank you for sharing this guidelines. A big hand for them.


    Another way to let your little one know that you believe is to let them see your faith in action during your daily life. Let them see you talking to God, thanking Him for showing up in your life in the little ways (keeping the lights green when you’re in a hurry, for instance) and big ways (medical, etc.), volunteering at church, etc.
    I also recommend the Lee Strobel books for both kids and adults. If your child asks “Did Jesus really live, die on a cross, and rise again?” and you can answer that historical texts prove it just as much or even more than they prove the Julius Caesar existed as Emperor of Rome, that might be a good answer or a good springboard to further conversation.



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