The “What If Game” of Warnings and Wisdom

The Father in Proverbs 5 is warning his son about the sneaky/adulteress woman. He tells his son what to look for, things she will say, and what she will do that might tempt him to go with her. Proverbs 1 teaches us to not give into sinners when they ask us to come along with them. While I do not need to warn my children of the adulteress woman (yet), I copy him and warn my kids of ways others might tempt them to go along with them in sin, what they might say. I warn them of people who might try to harm them. Since mine are all little, I do this in a very gentle way, without having to go into much detail, but with an overall focus that not everyone is good with good intentions and we need to be aware of this. There are also lots of Bible verses that tell about  the blessings received by those who live to please the Lord, so we talk about ways we can live as lights to bring glory to God.

To do this, we play the “What if…” game. A friend told me she did this with her kids and I immediately loved it and started doing it too. It’s simple, I give them a “what if” question and they give the answer. When it’s a first time what if question I usually have to tell them the correct response so they don’t just keep guessing. This game has brought up so many wonderful conversations with my kids. Once we did this for a while, the questions started expanding to character training questions. I can cover every topic from how we treat people, what to do when approached by a stranger and everything in between. It can be a 5 minute game, or as long as you want it to be. We play in the car, while I’m making lunch, giving baths, etc. My kids love it and I can address things in a light hearted way. It’s not something we do every day, but it’s a great tool to have in the parenting belt.
EXAMPLE WHAT IF questions: (Keep in mind, my children are 6 and under, so these questions are geared for their age group)
  • What if you’re playing at a park and someone, a kid or an adult says, “Hey, I have some puppies in my car, want to come see them?” Answer: “I have to ask my mommy first.” If there really are puppies, of course I want to see them! But do not go with a stranger to his/her car.
  • What if you are playing outside at home and a car pulls up, rolls down their window, says they need help with something and could you help them? Answer: Run inside and tell mommy. If someone needs help I will be happy to help them. (*I read once that adults who actually need help won’t ask children for help. If you need something, or directions, are you really going to ask a child? Nah, you’ll probably ask them to get their mom or dad)
  • What if you are playing and someone hits you? Answer: (Whatever your family does for this)  We say things like, if they’re toddlers, just give grace and play nicely, if they’re big kids and are intentionally being mean, let us know and find someone else to play with.
  • What if you are playing with a friend and they ask to see your boy/girl parts? (I know this sounds crazy, but it happens!) We tell them to say, “NO, that is inappropriate” and to come and let us know asap.
  • What if you see a trail near the playground and you want to go on it? (My kids love trails and we play at a playground that has some trails off of it) Answer: Ask mommy first.
  • What if you are in Sunday school and you see someone sitting alone? Or a new person comes to class? What’s something you can do? Answer: Go and say hi, tell them your name, etc.
  • What if you are playing with other kids and someone starts being mean to another child or doesn’t want to include them? Answer: Don’t participate in being unkind to someone. Be the child that stands up for others, and if you see someone playing alone invite them to come and play with you. If it continues, find a new group to play with. Do what is right and good.
  • What if you are walking into a store and there is an elderly person coming out, what’s something nice you can do? Answer: Hold the door for them. (or a woman, or another family, etc)
  • What if you are playing and you get really frustrated and want to hit? Answer: (Whatever your family does) We say: fold your hands, walk away, take a break, talk to one of us about it, go find a bird out of the window to watch for a few minutes, etc)
We take this beyond warnings and character training to address anything one of our children may need extra help with:
  • What if you are laying in bed and can’t sleep, what can you do?
  • What if you have three trains and your brother or sister also wants to play, but they don’t have any trains? (I have one that can have a hard time sharing)
This may seem simple and obvious to you, but it seemed like an ingenious idea to me when a friend first told me about it. As the kids have gotten older, the questions change accordingly. I’m definitely not saying my answers are all the “right” answers, I’m simply giving ideas based on what we do. My kids are in training too and they need correction for some of these things as much as they need to hear the what if answers. 🙂 It’s about helping them be alert. Alert in how the enemy might tempt them, alert in how to love others well and see other’s needs. It’s helping them think through things while they are outside of the moment. It’s teaching. It’s training. For me, it helps me be intentional.
As the kids get older I have started asking them “why” with some of the answers so they can have an UNDERSTANDING. I pray discussing these things with our kids will help build a bridge that prepares them, helps them. I want them to cling to wisdom and run to her and look for her in every situation. I want them to, “Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,” and call understanding their kinsman.” Proverbs 7:7 I want them to know wisdom like an old friend. I want them to know this about her: “Stay close to wisdom and she will protect you, love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme, therefore get wisdom. Though it cost ALL YOU HAVE, get understanding. Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a  crown of splendor.” Proverbs 4:6-8

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