Parables for children

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A parable is a story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson. They are great for younger children because they are both interesting and educational.

Telling one to your own child is a good idea but you must ensure that the message or metaphor is not too complex; otherwise they'll take nothing away from the teaching.

The Parables of Jesus

The Parables of Jesus are documented in the Bible books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These four books are often referred to as the Gospels. Jesus told these stories to his followers, and they were often underlined by a metaphor or moral that the listeners should apply to their own lives. The child-friendly parables are those that contain simple and straightforward messages, such as the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders (Matthew 7:24-27). The moral of this particular story is that Jesus' teachings should be put into practice by those who listen and not heard idly without any action. Other child-friendly parables include the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant and the Parable of the Lost Coin.

The Modern Parables of Jesus

Biblical parables are often told in old English with words and phrases that are not used today. This can make them particularly difficult for children to understand. To make things more comprehensible for children, the Parables of Jesus can also be retold with modern characters and situations. The character of the king in the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:23-35) can be replaced with a schoolteacher or boss. You could also replace the sum of money that was owed in the original parable (10,000 talents) with a more modern £0.6 million.

Relevant and Appropriate Parables

Parables about faith are not always appropriate for younger children who might not understand the concept and importance of worship and prayer. Instead, you could tell a parable that is more relevant and appropriate for their age group or social life. The Parable of the Good Samaritan, for example, is a great choice because it can be applied to friendship and school. The parable teaches that people should be kind and considerate to friends and other people, even when they expect nothing in return. Make the parable even more appropriate by putting it into the context of the child's life, such as the way he must be nice to his friends and siblings.

Make Up Your Own

If you can't find an appropriate parable for your child or one that explains what you want to teach, try making up one of your own. Keep the parable short and make sure it's based on the moral you are looking to get across. You might tell a tale about animals working together to get things done quicker or perhaps one about how sharing your problems can help sort them out. Tell the parable with characters from your child's favourite book or TV show. This should help familiarise her with the story and the message.