I was recently asked by a parent about how much detail should we share with our children. I was reminded of a specific Sunday afternoon when I had to take our then-four year old son to the hospital emergency room after church, because he fell in the nursery and split his head open just above his right eye … in the eyebrow.
That’s the thing about accidents … they happen anywhere and at anytime. As we were walking out of the church building to get in the van, my son said, “I don’t want a band aid.” I told him that he didn’t have to worry about that because he was going to be getting stitches. His response, “I’ll just take a band aid.” When we got to the hospital and I got him signed in at the emergency room, we had to sit in a waiting room until they were ready to see him. While we were waiting he crawled up in my lap and nestled against my chest. At this point he was still holding the bandage on his head that had been applied in the nursery. He seemed to take great comfort in pressing that little gauze against his boo boo. While we were waiting he asked me if it was going to hurt to get the stitches. I told him that they were going to give him a shot to numb his head, so he would not feel them doing the stitches. He asked if the shot was going to hurt. I told him,
“Yes. It is going to hurt. It is going to sting and burn a little. The shot will be the hardest part, but, yes, it is going to hurt.” As I think back over that conversation with my four year old, I see a glaring lesson for us as parents when talking with our kids, no matter what the conversation is about: Honesty is the best policy. As parents, we must be willing to talk with our kids and tell them the truth. Tell them the truth so they have an accurate worldview and expectation, whether it is about stitches, relationships, salvation, death, career paths, or whatever else we talk about with them. Tell them the truth and give them the right amount of information based on their age and ability to comprehend. There is no need to dumb life. Kids may not be able to comprehend big words, but they ARE able to comprehend big truths. The reason I think this is so important, is that it helps them to grow up and to be able to handle the challenging subjects of life. I would have done my son no favors, if in an effort to comfort him, if I had said,
“No, you don’t need to worry. It’s not going to hurt.” For the moment his little mind may have experienced some relief, but that would have been short lived when the doctor pricked him with the needle. When the doctor gave him the shots I reminded him that it was going to hurt, but that it was the hard part and would be over quickly. My son never cried, screamed, panicked or even squirmed. He had been armed with the truth and he was able to handle it better than anyone would expect a four year old to do. Think about it: God is truth. Jesus is truth. The Holy Spirit is truth. The Bible is truth. What would make me think that anything other than truth is going to disciple my children to know God, love God and live for God? Truth fertilizes trust.