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One Of The Scary Questions...

So we were going to Trader Joe's for Ohs today. I was turning off Mt. Prospect Rd. onto Rand. It's a complicated 3 way intersection with a lot of gridlock, and there was a lot of stupid going on. As I managed to make my turn with inches to spare I sighed "thank you, God." Katie asked "Who's that?"

Now, how do you explain God to a 4 yr old? I told her that God was the boss of the universe, and created everything. This set her and Julie off into "did he make ___ ?" all the rest of the way to Trader Joe's.
I said a lot of yeses.

This bought me time, but now I have to really think about how to address the issue the next time she asks.
Any suggestions?



( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 9th, 2010 12:43 am (UTC)
I have a song, the lyrics of which I used with my kids:

God is Love, and Love is Life, and Life is everywhere.
Love is surrounding, guiding, binding,
Keeping us safe from any harm.
God is Love, and Love is Life, and Life is everywhere.
Nov. 9th, 2010 01:34 am (UTC)
How you address it depends a lot on what you believe on the subject, and I haven't a clue what you do believe. If you want advice on what to say to a four-year-old about God, I'd go with "a simplified version of what you think is true," which sounds like just about what you did say. But to go any further, I'd need to know more about what you do think is true. What I tell my children about God is from an atheist Jew's perspective, and that is probably not the direction you're coming from.
Nov. 9th, 2010 03:00 am (UTC)
Nor would the words of this pagan atheist from a Jewish atheist family be all that relevant. Some of my experiences might.

My parents' attitude was to let me make up my own mind about religion when I was old enough, and I tried to do the same with my daughters. They had a wonderful book called The World's Great Religions from Time/Life publishing. Or it might have been just Life at that point. It's a great overview, with pictures, of the sort that might be useful when your kids are half a dozen years older. I don't know whether there's anything comparable for younger kids.
Nov. 9th, 2010 02:13 am (UTC)

Maybe start with a lot of, "Some people say ...," and then top off with, "I think ..."

Nov. 9th, 2010 03:40 am (UTC)
Are you explaining God, or introducing the Stig?

Some say...he delivers important messages to mankind by setting shrubbery on fire. And that he once parted the Red Sea because he hates waiting for ferries. All *we* know is....he's called the LORD!

(Sorry for the lack of a serious answer, but I don't have any good advice, being thoroughly agnostic. I couldn't give them answers, I could just give them some more interesting questions)
Nov. 9th, 2010 02:39 am (UTC)
If you want her to believe in God, you give her one of Br. Guy's books.

If you don't, you give her a Richard Dawkins book.

Either way you make note that I have never had any small children and am basically useless for this kind of thing and ignore me.
Nov. 9th, 2010 10:07 am (UTC)
I can't help you. Children's questions are tough. We never get the kinds of questions I was expecting, like "Why is the sky blue?" or "Why are there rainbows?". Instead, we get questions that are easy and hard at the same time, like "How many people did the Nazis kill?" and "But what do lesbians do?". (Adam is 10.)
Nov. 9th, 2010 12:23 pm (UTC)
What are you trying to accomplish? What do you want your children to do in relation to deities or churches or any of that? Then you answer the question in that context.

I have told my kids a variety of answers over the years. The bottom line is that it seems everyone makes up God the way they would like their God to be, and they could do that, too.

Explaining organized religion, especially the megachurches and the bureaucracy of the major religions, is tougher. I explain that as it being a social group more than anything else, and that they're getting together to pretend to believe in the same thing, sort of like a LARP that never ends. But where you're expected to follow their rules *all the time*.

I have gotten what I wanted: Non-religious, polite, respectful young adults. YMMV.
Nov. 9th, 2010 01:26 pm (UTC)
I don't have kids and I'm not religious so obviously what I think may not be what you think.

But I see several factors interacting here.

What do you want them to believe about untestable supernatural matters, and are you comfortable just directly instructing them in that or would you rather they absorb it from you by watching your behavior?

What do you want them to believe about the social aspects of religion, and how would you like them to interact with people belonging to your religion? Other religions? Non-religious people?

Do you want them to accept what other people tell them about religion or do you want them to push back? If you want them to push back do you want them to do it by clinging to a competing set of ideas about the supernatural or by examining whether the ideas being presented are consistent with the real world?

You know, I had always thought of the responsibility of parenthood in physical terms: keeping your child(ren) safe, warm, well nourished, healthy. I hadn't considered the implications of trying to feed a developing mind. I understand why you are concerned, and I sympathize.
Nov. 9th, 2010 06:58 pm (UTC)
As an introduction, visit a local religious book store and look for some basic picture books.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )