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DD asked "Who is God?" need religious & non-religous thougths pls

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
My DD (3 1/2) asked me "Who is God?" tonight. I had no idea how to answer. We had just finished reading a Noah's Ark story (she received a Noah's Ark toy and book for Christmas), and it mentioned God several times. My DH and I are not religous; we have some spiritual beliefs, but they don't fall into any organized religion, and we don't believe in a single God (although we were both raised Christian). My DH's answer to her tonight was "Oh, he's just some guy in that story". Hmm...nice and vague...

So, I'd like some input. For those of you who ARE religous, and hold a belief in one God, how do you explain him to your children? The concept of God is so abstract for a child that age. And for those of you who are NOT religous, how do you approach God and other religous topics with your children?

I'll probably have more thoughts later, but for now I need to get to bed. Thanks for your input!

Jennifer
post #2 of 18
My dd is still too young for this, but i would tell her that God is the *person* who designed the whole world and all the people and animals; but He is not really a *person* like Mama and Daddy, He is a *spirit* like the wind - you can't see Him, but you can feel Him in your heart, and if you're very still and quiet you will hear Him talking to you in your heart too -- He will tell you when something is wrong so that you won't do it any more, like Mama.

Something like that, depending on the level of comprehension and personal beliefs etc.
post #3 of 18
Yikes tough question. Not sure how I would respond, but I do think that the Bahai's have a bunch of multifaith books aimed at kids of all ages that talk about God. I remember one that was talking about the omnipresence of God saying..."God is in the apple you eat... God is in the stars you see..." something like that.

As a Muslim Mom, I'd probably talk about some of God's attributes that we know through the 99 names of God... so...
God is the Most Merciful
God is the Most Gracious
God is the Most Just
God is the Most Loving
God is the Most Patient One
etc. http://www.artislamic.com/esma/01.html

I wouldn't go through too many at a time... and I'd probably say.. well, how do you think you can be more compassionate or loving or whatever...

I'd also say that God loves people who are kind, who do good deeds, etc.
post #4 of 18
I am religious, but Pagan, not Christian. I don't allow Christian books or toys around ds. My inlaws inevitably give him gifts of this nature each year, but I don't allow ds to have them. I have found most of the Christian stories of God to be much to violent for children any way. Ds has a speach delay and has never asked about God or Goddess, but I talk about them often. We do some small rituals together, and I have read him many of the stories of the Celtic Gods. Even though Ds can't talk much he can sing, and we sing songs about the Gods and Goddesses often. Ds really enjoys it. After my daughter was stillborn ds started asking about death. It started out just asking where his sister was, and progressed to questions about death. I simply told him what I believe. Some day I assume some one will tell him about Christianity and he will ask about it. I will tell him what I know from growing up Christian, and encourage him to ask our UU Reverend if he still has questions. I am leary of allowing him to ask my parents or dh's parents because I fear what they will tell him. I just don't want him to hear about how all non-believers are d@mned and all. I also don't want him to feel the pressure to convert that I know his grandparents would put on him.
post #5 of 18
I've got a fabulous book waiting for ds called "In God's Name" written by Sandy Sasso that is really good. It is very nondenominational and would be good for anyone who had even a vague belief in something/one called God.
post #6 of 18
We are atheists and treat modern religions no different from ancient mythology.

We believe that people are curious and want to understand life and the universe, and when they don't understand they make up stories as explanations because not understanding is uncomfortable.

That's what we have told our children. We also emphasize that that's what we believe. We explain that there are many ways of believing, that religious belief is not based on reason nor logic, and that we think it's wrong to believe something just because someone else (including parents) says it's true.
post #7 of 18
My vote would be just tell her the truth, in as simple terms as possible. Say that some people think that God is the creator of the universe. If she asks, say that you don't think that he is.

Your DD is probably going to adopt whatever mythos you project (like it or not), at least until she's capable of critically thinking about the issue. I think the important thing is to seem open to various worldviews, so that she's not guilty/afraid/embarrassed if she decides on something alternate to your beliefs.

From experience, my parents tried to raise me to make my own decisions. When I told them that I was agnostic (they are Baptist), they were happy, because it proved their methods worked I don't feel bad about believing what I do, I don't have to hide during Christmas, and we can have intelligent discussions about religion. Everybody wins.
post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordSah
Your DD is probably going to adopt whatever mythos you project (like it or not), at least until she's capable of critically thinking about the issue.
Yep. I think the most important thing is to teach and allow your children to question.

As they get older, I think it's also important for them to know that there's a time and a place to question people's religious beliefs. My 13yo has become quite the diplomat. His best friend has recently spent time with his dad (parents are divorced) who is a born-again Christian. The child is parroting a lot of his dad's ideas. My son might gently debate with him, but he doesn't ridicule or scoff at his beliefs because he wants to keep him as a friend. Sometimes Jakob just changes the subject.
post #9 of 18
My ds is too young to ask this question, but I think I would turn around and ask him, "who do you think God is?" and see what his response is. I figure he was with God more recently than I, and I would like to know what he remembers.
post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChasingPeace
My ds is too young to ask this question, but I think I would turn around and ask him, "who do you think God is?" and see what his response is. I figure he was with God more recently than I, and I would like to know what he remembers.

I asked ds that the other night and he told me, (after looking at me like I was kind of goofy for not knowing) - "I am God, mommy and you are God. Daddy and Lucy are God, too. Every everybody is God." I was really blown away with this because I have never really talked about God with him, and neither has anyone else. But, it happens to be basically what I believe, so I was pretty amazed.

Sorry to divert your thread, OP.
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the responses...DH and I will need to discuss this some more, and really decide what we want to say to her. While part of me has wanted to keep any Christian books/toys away from her, I/we decided not to because she was bound to encounter religous ideas throughout her life, and it just didn't feel like a realistic goal. And my opinion was also that they should be looked at as a story, like any other story she has. I know questions are going to come up, because she has occasionally attended church with my parents, and they always say a dinner prayer. Come to think of it, she once asked my mom who God was...I wasn't quick enough to reply, so my mom answered (can't remember how she put it). Sort of rambling here, sorry. It's a difficult issue.
post #12 of 18
I'd recommend this book:
What Is God?
by Etan Boritzer, Robbie Marantz
http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/tg/...2444-8185604#2

it says age 9-12, but i think it can be useful for younger kids too. I gave it tome niece for her christening at 18 mos
post #13 of 18
I don't have any family that are likely to give that kind of gift, fortunately--my in-laws consider themselves "Christian" but they are not church-goers and it really never comes up. But my son's former DCP has a Noah's Ark toy so I could see how the question could arise. I would probably answer as your husband did--"He's just some guy in a story." I am an atheist so to me the Noah's Ark story and the entire Bible in fact are "just a story."

I do think it is important for children to be educated about the major world religions, because particularly with the case of Christianity they are likely to be challenged or proselytized to at some point. I.e., "Why doesn't your family go to church? Do you want to come to my church and learn about Jesus who loves you?" Et cetera. Unitarian Universalist churches have an excellent Religious Education program that simply teaches what OTHERS believe and doesn't dictate what the child is supposed to believe. We have been intending to join a UU church soon.
post #14 of 18
My DD asked me that question a while ago, like right after she turned three, I think. Let me see if I can remember how I answered it.

I told her that is one of those questions she'll have to find her own answer to when she gets older. I told her that different people have different answers to that question, but it doesn't mean any one person's answer is better than any others, just that different people believe different things, especially about God. She asked me about her friends' God because that is what prompted her to ask me in the first place, her best friends are from a devoutly Christian family, and I told her as much about Christianity as I feel comfortable sharing with her at this age, but I emphasized that it was just one version of God, and that there are lots of other ideas about God besides that one.


...*some* UU churches have a great RE department, some don't. Ours is in the process of changing, or starting to change, but right now there is nothing remotely religious being taught in "religious education" there. I definitely plan to start attending the UU church sometime in the future, just not sure when that will be.
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by stafl
...*some* UU churches have a great RE department, some don't.
Agreed. We've attended a few different UU churches. Some RE teachers have trouble keeping their own bias out of the instruction.

Also, a big problem in UU churches is the confusing of liberal religion with liberal politics.
post #16 of 18
My DH and I are both Christian so we talk about god with our son all the time, we pray together and sometimes our son "prays" alone. He hasn't asked but my DH has told him that God is his father, above everyone else and that God loves him.
post #17 of 18
A great book, popular with UUs is "Hide and Seek with God" by Mary Anne Moore.
It's not illustrated--at least not my edition--but it would be a great resource for you to get some ideas and then re-tell the stories/tales in your own words.

I've never figured out the Noah's Ark-Christian thing. People using it as a theme for children's bedrooms!
Yes, it has cute animals and a nice little boat, but it also has that vengeful, fear-me God from the OT destroying an entire world--animals, plants, children.
How about something NT, like the Beatitudes?
I guess the Beatitudes just don't lend themselves to plush animals and plastic toys!

Anyhow. . . there are some great books out there that will help you explain the different conceptions of God and why different people seek out and need different versions, but 3 is a little young for all that!

Perhaps just (depending on your family's faith or philosophy) read many multicultural books that feature a variety of different Gods (appropriate for a little one, of course) and let her figure it out.

Greek, Roman, Norse, Jewish, Christian, Earth-centered, African, Hindu, Native Tribes, etc.
There are many wonderful tales of men and their Gods that are appropriate for one so young--you just have to look carefully, edit wisely and be selective.

Teresa
post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teresa
I've never figured out the Noah's Ark-Christian thing. People using it as a theme for children's bedrooms!
Yes, it has cute animals and a nice little boat, but it also has that vengeful, fear-me God from the OT destroying an entire world--animals, plants, children.
How about something NT, like the Beatitudes?
I guess the Beatitudes just don't lend themselves to plush animals and plastic toys!

Teresa
Yeah, I don't get this either. She's been asking for the book a lot lately, and DH is having lots of conversations about how it really wasn't very nice of God to send a flood, etc. I don't think they've gotten any more into "who" God is. I need to do some exploring online and at book store to find some good books. In the meantime I think we'll go with an explanation that includes what many people believe about God.

Our own beliefs lean towards an animistic viewpoint...everything is sacred and has a spirit. That humans are on same level as all life. That there isn't any single higher power, although I do believe that there are greater and lesser spirits out there.
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