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Children And God


zaidagal
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Hi everyone! My boys have started attending sunday school in the lovely episcopalian church I belong to. My 5 year old son also goes to "anchor boys" in a more conservative church (Im not thrilled with some of it but the folks are lovely and Alec has friends there)....He has been talking a lot about God. My 3 year old doesnt really talk about God yet.

 

So, Im trying to find answers for Alec that are not too confusing, but also that are "real" answers. Ive tried to explain to him that in different countries people call God different names; he asked me what God looks like and I said nobody really knows - we just know he is full of love; he asks a lot about Heaven (he is worried about death) and I think he understands that our bodies die (shut down) but our "nice thoughts and love" go to God in heaven; he just asked me today "But does God make us get hurt? Like when we fall"? I cant believe it! Alec is 5 years old and has SUSSED the "problem of pain"!

 

Its all very strange for me, because I grew up in an agnostic/athiest/new york liberal home, and we just didnt have these discussions. My parents were pretty against religion, and didnt really have or show any spirirutal beliefs (although they were and are lovely people, and taught us morals). Im worried about brainwashing my children! I want them to know a loving God, and experience a loving Church, but I also want them to be open to the fact that none of really "know" (theres a difference between belief and knowledge)....Ofcourse, my husband is an athiest so I suppose the boys will get influences from us both...any thoughts?

 

Zaidagal

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Zaidagal,

 

Hello

Children are a great adventure and make you think. How wonderful that Alec is pushing; he might be on a fast track. If it were me I would say that God does not make us get hurt but that God is our friend when we do get hurt. A BFF for the good times and hard.

 

Of course there are other answers you could chose and the conservatives have their explanations. I'm sure you have/will run into them.

 

Take Care

 

dutch

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Hi Zaidagal,

 

One thing I would always try to remember is that children tend to see through hypocrisy.........sooner or later! So try to be yourself, which means try not to think about any "answers" or "guidance" too hard, better to just say what comes as and when rather than plan a discussion. No ones perfect, and the children - at least I think so - will be guided more by the real vibes between the people in the house rather than any words "practiced" and thought about beforehand. Maybe this is all my own excuse for leaving my own daughter without "Guidance", yet she now works with special needs children, and was once known to tip her drink over some guy who was dissing a gay friend of her's, so she can't be all bad!

 

One story from the past, which I've always kept close to my heart............during the days when the famines in Ethiopia were current, and often pictures of the suffering seemed to be on every newscast. I was walking with my daughter - about six years old then - to school. She looked up at the sky and said....."I wonder if God is behind that cloud!". Quickly grabbing for my "profound" hat, I said..."Oh, God's not like that, God is everywhere", to which she said...."Cor, he must be a fat bloke!" Then the conversation moved on a bit, and she asked...."Why did God create wasps?". I quickly got the drift, remembering a picnic not long before when wasps had caused havoc amid the jam sandwiches."Oh, we musn't judge the worth of things just by whether we like them or not. There's a reason every thing is created." There was a long silence as we continued our walk, then my daughter said..."Why did God create the people of Ethiopia?"

 

My answer at the time is fortunately lost to memory, but her question always brings me close to tears. NOW I think the actual "answer" can only ever be the totality of our own lives - rather than any words. And I suppose, for my daughter, THEN, the answer was only ever found in our home, and what love was true within it. Imperfect, but maybe thats all part of it.

 

Anyway, all the best.........and don't forget to try - really hard - to learn from them. Its certainly not a one way street!

 

:)

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tariki great wisdom..................Our children seem to push our buttons to see our reactions from which they learn good or bad. The other day my older son came to me and pointed out a mistake my wife did and said why don't you call her on it as she likes to do to you. Luckily, I was in good place and replied, "I don't like to become what I don't like." I feel the best we can do is try to stay in the moment.

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Oh I like that statement "I dont want to become what I dont like"....I need to remember that for every walk of my life!

 

Thanks for all of your comments and stories about your children. Alec is certainly giving me challenges with all of his questions...he wants to know what God looks like, what heaven looks like, etc etc....his questions remind me to be thoughtful, answer truthfully, but in a way he can understand...Im just waiting for my 3 year old, Arran, to start in as well!

 

Im trying to explain to them the idea that we can "believe" without "knowing"....Ive told them both that many people believe in God in many different ways, use different names, etc....and that all we really "know" is that God is "love" and we have to spend our lives figuring out how to put that in action...

 

One thing thats a challenge for me is that my husband is completely athiest....I may actually start a new topic, seeing if their are others dealing with this issue....and how have harmony in a home where the beliefs are so diverse!

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  • 1 month later...

zaidagal: When faced with a theological question from children, I often start with "well, some people believe...", this keeps me from passing on some belief of mine that may or may not be valuable. Little kids especially are absorbing "God is..." in the same way they are are absorbing, "the stove is hot". They are also very aware of the problem of evil and the many other questions of existence that philosophers write about, they just are burdened by sophisticated logic tricks.

 

So, sounds like you are doing a great job. I am also interested in the atheist spouse discussion. I will look for that.

 

I just started reading Karen Armstrongs, "A compassionate life in 12 steps", available as book or vook, compassion vook. It discusses compassion in a variety of disciplines without passing judgment on those disciplines. A good way to expose a young person to many cultures.

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children tend to see through hypocrisy

 

The very fact that he is asking tells me that something he has been told doesn't make sense. My experience with my children was if they have to understanding to ask the question then he will see through crap. I always felt "I don't know" to be a perfectly acceptable answer as long as it was followed by discussion of why. I even have been known to tell them if anyone thinks they know the answers they are probably wrong.

 

steve

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