06 Aug My child is asking about God, what do I say?
I’ve been asked this question a few times as a mother and playgroup leader and this question is usually asked by a child to a parent who doesn’t know what to believe themselves.
Here are some overarching principles when answering your child:
1. Make your answer simple to understand. If you can’t repeat what you just told your child, it’s probably too complicated.
2. Be truthful. If you don’t know the answer, say so, but try to find out the answer.
3. Try not to be dismissive. If we shut down our child’s questions, they will still have them, but they may not go to you for answers. Being approachable will encourage interaction and establish good relationships.
4. Encourage thinking and searching by affirming their question and their courage to ask you.
5. Recognise this is a deep question and very important to your child, even though it may seem nonsensical to you. Try to treat their question seriously by respecting the question with your time and energy.
Here’s some background before answering your child…
If you were tempted to dismiss the idea of God, there is scientific research which supports these theories that a child is predisposed to:
- Believe in a supreme being
- Believe that the world was created with a purpose
- Believe that someone (not something) created the world
- Believe that some part of us (not our physical bodies) lives on in an afterlife
All this without being taught by adults! For further reading see the article written by atheists: https://evolutionnews.org/2014/08/more_studies_sh/
That said, we respect every parents right to pass on their religious belief to their child, no matter what they believe.
Answering the question: If my child were to ask me about God, this is what I would say:
I’d ask them to hold up their hand and blow on it.
Can they feel the wind? Yes.
Can they see the wind? No.
God is like that, we can’t see him, he’s invisible, but you can feel him in your heart.
Children love doing this, and it really makes sense to them.
Then I would talk about Jesus, how he is God’s Son and tell stories of what he did when he was on this earth. This is something that children can really understand, and they feel a great sense of peace when they hear about what Jesus said and did.
As a child, I remember being anxious to fall asleep, I thought someone would come and take me in the middle of the night. So, I would grab my mattress and hold tight, I figured that the robber would have a hard time carrying me out of the bedroom with a mattress stuck to me. This made it a little hard to fall asleep ????
Our family wasn’t particularly Christian, but I did have access to a children’s bible. And it was reading the stories and seeing the pictures of Jesus that calmed my fears, 50 years later I can still feel that emotion. What about you? Can you remember your childhood?
Digging deep into your history and remembering your childhood, can give you some understanding and empathy for your child. One last thing, sometimes it’s great to ask the child why they are asking the question. This can give you more idea about the context of their question and you are more likely to give them a satisfactory answer.
Yvette Wynne, Mission Development, Integricare