Excerpted from Honest Answers: Exploring God Questions with Your Tween ©2020 by Janelle Alberts and Ingrid Faro. Used with permission. May not be reprinted without permission.
Little kids love Bible stories. God holds the whole world in his hands and he loves our kids and our kids can trust him. These are the things our kids know, for the Bible tells them so.
Then kids grow and start noticing all that other stuff the Bible tells them.
“Dragons are real, you know,” a young boy once reported to any­one who would listen, holding up a Lego dragon for all of us adults chatting in the room at the time. He’d heard a story in church that week about the dragon from the book of Revelation (Rev. 12:13–17), and he was proceeding as instructed since toddlerhood: if it’s in the Bible, it’s true.
What do we parents do with that? The Bible is true. Yet the Scrip­tures are ancient literature, and that kind of text asks for a specific discipline from our kids. Namely, our kids must learn how to lis­ten for what Bible writers actually say through allegory, history, or poetry, and resist bending Scripture into a genre they understand as more straightforward.
That is not going to be easy.
One problem with letting the Bible speak for itself is that it includes stories with slavery and killing and “good” characters who turn out to behave deplorably as well as heroically, depending on the page. That’s unnerving for young readers just graduating from the sunny Jesus jingles of their younger days.
Plus, the Bible has ancient cultural subtleties that are not obvious to our kids (or most of us adults for that matter), which can tempt our kids to ignore whole parts of Scripture altogether.
Add to all that the mystery of what exactly our kids are holding in their hands. We ask them to memorize Bible verses, but have we helped them understand how reliably those verses have been passed down through the millennia? God divinely inspired the Bible, we know, but by what practical process did these verses come to be in this book?
Maybe that sounds like a lot to lay on a kid at these early junctures. Yet one cautionary tale from our ancestors is this: rich, deeply meaningful Bible stories can become rote, religious incantations if handled incorrectly.
We, the parents of this generation, do not want to do that. In the hopes of avoiding this, we are here to embark on the following short but mighty task list: 

  1. Help our kids sort through how this ancient Bible came to be in their twenty-first-century hands. We’ll sketch out its idiosyncrasies and give a timeline of its basic assembly.
  2. Run through the Bible’s reputation among today’s scholars. We’ll outline academic philosopher and ancient historian opinions and clear up conspiracy theories and political innuendos that undermine our kids’ high view of Scripture if left unaddressed. We’ll gut-check our own parental analysis of the Bible, as well as once and for all purge a lingering, false OT versus NT dichotomy that needs to go.
  3. Impart to our kids the nuts and bolts of navigating stories from an ancient writer’s point of view.

We parents hereby join together and commit that our answers will not loop back to the you have the Bible because God gave you the Bible kinds of answers that served us well when introducing God to our kids. Introductions have been made. Now it’s time for getting-to-know. If we ignore the stomach acid that the above task list causes most of us, and if we speak forthrightly with our kids about the Bible, they stand a shot at knowing God just a little bit better.
We parents want desperately for that to happen. We want to empower our kids to lean confidently on the Bible, with abiding faith in its truths, in ways that speak into their current situation. We also want what we cover here to hold them steady as they move forward, so that unexpected tidbits about this ancient literature that pop up later on do not destabilize their faith.
Let’s get started.

About the Authors

Janelle Alberts spent her early career in PR departments for Microsoft and UPS, boiling down logical, clear corporate messaging. She now attempts the same for parents who love Scripture, often featuring bits we’ve never heard but wish we had.
Alberts wrote her first faith column for the Akron Beacon Journal in 2010 and has since been a regular contributor to various online sites including Christianity Today’s Gifted for Leadership, RELEVANT magazine, and others. Honest Answers is her first book.
Alberts and her family make their home in Ohio.
Visit her on Facebook (@AuthorJanelleAlberts).

Ingrid Faro
 is dean of academic affairs and associate professor of Old Testament at Northern Seminary. She is also associate professor of Old Testament at the Scandinavian School of Theology in Sweden. She has an MDiv and PhD from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Faro is an international speaker at conferences and churches and writes on topics that include navigating evil and suffering, abuse and power dynamics, women in the Bible, forgiveness, the goodness of God, identity in Christ, discipleship, and leadership. Her motivation is to encourage people, help them navigate the pain and sufferings of this world, and grow in thriving relationship with God and others. She is the coauthor of Honest Answers.

Faro has two married children and three grandchildren. She lives in Illinois.