Monday, 18 July 2011

Explaining the mysteries of life to a 4 year old.

I'm really bad at trying to explain religion to my kids.

It probably doesn't help that I'm not religious myself, but at the same time I sort of feel they have to know about it. Littleboy 2 in particular is always asking questions like "Who made us?' and wants to know where everything came from. I always have to come up with wishy washy answers such as "Well, some people think God made us and some people don't believe that," and feel it would be a lot easier if I either believed the Bible verbatim or was brave enough to start quoting Richard Dawkins at him.

So I found myself having the following conversation with him today on the rather hot, sticky walk home from summer camp.

LB2: If God made us, then who made God?
NVG: Well, nobody knows. It's a mystery.
LB2: Did he make himself?
NVG: Well, I suppose he might have done.
LB2: But how can a person make themself?
NVG: Well, God isn't a person.
LB2: What is he?
NVG: Well, he's just like.....a being. Some kind of power. If you believe in God, that is. Kind of like a....a superhero, I guess (struggling to find some comparison that he would understand).
LB2: God is a superhero? Does he wear a costume?

So. Great. Now my son thinks God is on a par with Batman. And I'm still lamely trying to add the 'Some people think...." coda to everything I say.

Where did it all go wrong?

14 comments:

Elsie Button said...

Love it! this type of conversation is all too familiar!

I am often turned into a bumbling mess by betty

Nota Bene said...

The perfect parent, child conversation...of which there will be many, many more. Suggest you get him to draw God with suitable costume. Alternatively refer to Stephen Hawking's book The Grand Design "a popular-science book written by physicists Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow and published by Bantam Books in 2010. It argues that invoking God is not necessary to explain the origins of the universe, and that the Big Bang is a consequence of the laws of physics alone.In response to criticism, Hawking has said; "One can't prove that God doesn't exist, but science makes God unnecessary."

Home Office Mum said...

we've had plenty of those conversations too. It really forces your hand as to which party you support most: God v Darwin

SaintTigerlily said...

I almost dread this conversation. I'm a non-believer but I don't want to push anything on Nico. It's a tough one.

Bush Mummy said...

The Bush Babies think we all go to Devon when we die.

BM x

About Last Weekend said...

Yes, we're definitely the "some people think" explainers. Actually my mother in law was appalled to find a couple of years ago that the kids didn't really know who Jesus was..I guess they get every religion in school except for Christianity. (You're not allowed to say Christmas here) We live in the East Bay, very close to Berkeley, so there you go...

Conuly said...

I think it all went wrong when you tried to have a logical conversation about religion with small children. (Or with anybody, actually. Religion is one of those things you either have or you don't.)

You might try going the overwhelm-them approach. Either they learn something, or they shut up, or both. For religion, the overwhelm-them approach would mean getting books about the ancient Greeks and Romans, and about the Norse gods, and about modern day religions, and going on and on and ON about it.

There's some really good books on various world religions, current or not so much, for kids.

nappy valley girl said...

Elsie - I know! We have so many conversations like this.

NB - I'll get him reading that, then.

HOM - Well, I know which I believe, but I don't want to influence him too far that way...

Saint Tigerlily - very tough. I want them to have open minds.

Bush Mummy - I once heard Littleboy 1 solemnly tell his brother that when we die, we go to Helen.

ALW - it's the same here. No-one talks about Christmas, it's 'the holidays'.

Conuly - the problem with LB2 is that he is really logical. He must have inherited his father's scientific genes, because he can always dissect my arguments with logic!

PantsWithNames said...

Love it. Love the thought of God in a latex outfit with his pants on over his trousers.

That LB2 is genius. Wouldn't fancy debating against him. He'd beat me hands down!

Tanya (Bump2Basics) said...

I think you did really well. I too am not really religious and I'm sure children wouldn't relate to my whole rambling stance spirituality etc.

Mud said...

God as a superhero is brilliant. You have a wonderful imagination!

nappy valley girl said...

Pants - it's quite scary sometimes....

Tanya - I honestly don't know how to explain it to them. I hope it will get easier as they get older...

Mud - thank you! Not really, I just know where my sons' interests lie....

Iota said...

I recently read about Alex Renton (Times journo) who wrote to the "Head of Theology" of the various denominations, forwarding on a similar question from his daughter. The best reply came from the Archbish of Canterbury. I thought it was very good, actually (why do I say "actually" there?). But I share his standpoint, so might not have a very good perspective from a non-religious point of view. Still, might be worth googling if LB2 is still interested

nappy valley girl said...

Iota - I certainly will. Would be very interested to see what he said...