Years ago one of our family friends asked my then three-year-old brother, Brent, about what happened at Easter. My dad heard the question and quickly swooped in to whisper, "Jesus rose from the dead" into my young brother’s ear.

Brent then fixed his big blue eyes on our friend and proudly announced, "Jesus froze to the bed!"

It’s a cute anecdote that my family brings up when the Easter season rolls around – and yes, it’s one we’ll likely share at Brent’s future wedding. We’re thankful that, as he’s grown, my brother has developed a rich understanding of the Easter season, and is continuing to uncover more truths about the depth of God’s love and the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice. He didn’t, however, come to this place on his own.

Parents play a vital role in faith development

Much of the credit is due to our parents, who diligently taught us about Christ. Parents play a vital role in their children’s faith development and, considering the central role of Easter in our Christian faith, it’s a significant season to engage with your children about Jesus’ death and resurrection.

However, there are many themes within the Easter story that may leave parents uneasy about addressing them with young children. While this season represents the ultimate expression of love and sacrifice, Christ’s resurrection didn’t occur without betrayal, denial, torture, pain and death.

Tips for discussing serious themes of Easter

If you’re feeling anxious or uncertain about what to say to your children, consider these tips as you talk to them about Easter in the coming weeks:

  • Consider your child’s age, developmental stage and personality. Some children may be more sensitive to certain details than others. If you’re unsure about reading your children the entire Biblical account of the Easter story, use John 3:16 as your guide to explain what happened. Continue to build on the foundation you’ve set by adding more details about the story every year, or as you see fit.
  • Listen and answer your children’s questions honestly. Give them time to process what you’re sharing with them and don’t be afraid to tell them when you don’t know the answer. Even as adults, there are some things about Easter we still may not fully comprehend.
  • Engage them in activities that can help bring the truths of Easter to life. Get creative! Use real-life scenarios, science experiments, skits or an Easter-themed book to help your kids understand forgiveness, sin, new life and salvation. See this article for a few ideas to get you started.
  • Explain to your children what Easter means to you. It can be easier to chat with your son or daughter when you focus on personal reflections.

Remember, the Gospel message is simple to grasp – even for a child. Pray that God would give you wisdom and that the Holy Spirit would bring clarity to your children as they learn.

Ultimately, as a parent, you know what’s best for your family. Take advantage of the opportunities you have to engage your children in conversations about Jesus and His sacrifice. And make sure you take opportunities to celebrate Easter with your family. After all, Jesus didn’t stay frozen to the bed!

Lindsay Hawkes was an in-house writer with Focus on the Family Canada at the time of publication.

© 2012 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.

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