When my boys were just in school, they told me ALL their friends were allowed to watch Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings! I’d learnt my lesson about nightmares when they’d watched M movies with their cousins, so I agreed to read to them instead. I read the first two Harry Potter books and over a couple of nights on holiday I told all the cousins the story of Lord of the Rings.
This meant that they could talk knowingly with their friends, but even better, it meant we could have some useful conversations, because we were exploring the stories together. This is why reading stories from the Bible together is so useful too!
All great books raise deep themes that we can use to spark deep conversations – but only if we read them together.
We don’t need to be afraid of engaging with big issues if we are part of what our children are learning. We can help them reflect, be led by their questions as well as spark deeper conversations with questions like: ‘what would the world be like if everyone did that?’
This also works for current events. How will our kids learn how to navigate the complex issues in our world if we haven’t prepared them for it? Will they learn from overheard remarks or on their devices? When they learn about climate change at school, will they know it’s an acceptable subject at home too?
Creating space for intentional conversations with our children and young people also helps us give concrete expressions to abstract ideas, like love, forgiveness, grace and justice. As they learn about these ideas within their church, school or family context our conversations can help explore what these ideals look like in life. To talk about stuff that matters also provides a space as a family to set about putting these ideas into action by loving and forgiving and spreading grace and justice.
My new book Raising Kids Who Care seeks to provide parents and churches with a roadmap for structured conversations that build relationship skills, awareness of cultural influences, deeper spiritual lives and encourage contribution to social justice issues in the world. In the book, there’s a conversation on ‘climate justice’ and another on ‘seeking (asylum) safety’. The kids are encouraged to lead these conversations to explore a worldview that says: ‘I can help do something about this injustice – this is what faith looks like’.
Helping our families learn to talk together about stuff that matters is one good way to bring about conversations of pursuing Jesus and justice.
Raising kids Who Care is written for conversations with children between the ages of 8-18, however it is never too early to make space to sit and read together, listen to and be led by our children’s questioning and building the foundation for the bigger questions as they come.
To find out more and read some of the great reviews for ‘Raising Kids Who Care: Practical conversations for exploring stuff that matters, together’, please visit: https://www.raisingkidswhocare.info
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Susy Lee is the author of ‘Raising Kids Who Care: Practical conversations for exploring stuff that matters, together’. Susy has a background in state and national consultancy roles with children and families in churches as well as international aid and development, and advocacy. Susy has lectured at universities and run numerous conference workshops for parents and families. Susy is also an active member of her local church community.