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For any agnostics out there - how do you explain God/religion to your DC?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
DS is 4 and he has heard a little about "God" and "baby jesus" from his grandparents and at school I think (not from the school, but just other friends). Anyway, I was raised Methodist but at this point don't really have a religious faith. I gues I am agnostic. DS is very inquisitive and asks questions and I feel i need to explain religion to him because he's going to encounter it, but i don't want to present any faith as fact. I don't mind him learning about different faiths and certainly would never try to prevent him from exploring his own spirituality. I'm just worried that he's so young and it may all sound so confusing.

If anyone has had experience with this or have any suggestions on how to explain things in a very simple way. Also, wondering if there are any children's books that might deal with this in a nuanced and helpful way. thanks!
post #2 of 9
Well, what we did first was go over what is fact and what is belief using everyday examples then explain that even though there are no facts that prove or disprove these ideas there are people who believe they are true and people who believe they aren't true. Basically we focused on the idea that just because someone believes something doesn't make it true.

Quite honestly, I wouldn't expect him to understand the complexities of it for a long time to come. No matter how simply you explain things just because there are many, many adults who have trouble with understanding the difference between fact and belief when it comes to things like religion.
post #3 of 9
There are a couple of excellent books by Dale McGowan that are worth reading to help you answer these sorts of questions
Raising Free Thinkers
Parenting Beyond Belief

The author also hosts a forum here.

We attend a UU Church and through their Spiritual Development program my kids get a lot info about other religions and how god/godesses are viewed within those religions.

In our family we talk about God being the name people use to describe the connection they feel to something bigger than themselves but that that feeling can emerge in many forms and has many names. Some people feel it in the connection to other people and to their best selves (Humanism) and some feel it in nature and some feel it in a church/mosque/synagogue or within the structure of a religion.
post #4 of 9
ds hasn't really asked a ton of questions specifically about the nature of god or who jesus is/was, but he does ask other questions that fall under the umbrella of religion/spirituality, like what happens to the spirit when the body dies. i tell him what i think, and i talk about other possible answers that other people believe, and ask him what he thinks. sometimes, though, kid want grown-ups to tell them what is true, and at this age, i think it's okay to present my beliefs as "the way it is" for his own feelings of security. he doesn't want me to say, "we can't really know for sure," on certain issues because that is scary to him.

i also like to tell ds that it's okay for one person's beliefs/understanding to change over time.
post #5 of 9
My DH is a non-practising catholic, and I am an agnostic, but for reasons of social inclusion we are raising DS within the framework of organised catholicism. This means that he is involved in the normal activities and iter of a catholic child in Italy, but on the other hand, we explain to him that these experiences are an expression of his culture, much as is his language, and that in the same way all over the world, as people speak in many different languages so they approach and envision God in many different ways. As long as one is sincere in his heart and respectful of all others every way is good and appropriate.
post #6 of 9
One of the very best things my mother ever did for me, IMO, was to very simply and honestly answer questions about god and the truth in any one given religion with "I don't really know." Because she didn't. And I think she saw the pitfalls in trying to over-explain things she didn't have experience of and didn't necessarily understand herself. She always encouraged her kids to meet people from all sorts of paths, read voraciously, etc, but she never tried to be the voice of other people's beliefs for them.
post #7 of 9
I am so glad someone else asked this question! My DD is only 17 months, but I know the day will come when I will have to answer the questions too! My husband and I were raised Catholic, married Catholic and baptized our DD Catholic (with some reservations). We have now come the realization that we don't want to raise her Catholic. Our main issue is going to the the family. When she's not going to CCD or making her first communion, I'm sure there will be hell to pay (no pun intended).
post #8 of 9
My kids are 8 and 6 and they never asked. This is a rather non-religious area and they haven't heard much, at least not enough to be curious about. I finally asked them about god and religion and stuff, and they just stared at me. I started trying to explain things and they ran off to play. They have a couple books given by my (Christian) MIL and they read them and didn't say anything. DS1 thought one of them was being intentionally funny by saying northern lights was God.

Don't expect your kids will ask everything. They might truly not care at all.
post #9 of 9

I applaud you... you and I have the exact same beliefs........ I can't wait to learn how to explain this to my lovely 4 year old

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