Today must be my day for in depth questions from my kids and good stuff coming in the mail! This morning I picked Christopher up from preschool as usual. I asked how his day was and he said, “Fine mom. I didn’t get into trouble so can I play Mario Kart when I get home?” Yes, that’d be fine I said. I asked what they did in school today and he said, “stuff.” Oh, ok. Thanks for the info! Then he asks me, “Mom, how was the world created?” He’s 4 years old!!!! How was the world created? Ugh!
In the matter of 2 seconds my mind went in all different directions. Do I give him the religious version? The scientific version? My version? Ask him what he thinks? I decided to start with the religious version and go from there. I am Catholic and attend mass on a (somewhat) regular basis. Trinity is in religious ed class and had her First Communion last year. I quit taking Christopher when he was about 2 *GASP* because he couldn’t sit still and it was always a commotion. He would literally YELL during mass, “Mom, when is it over? Is he (the priest) done talking yet? I want to go! No, I won’t be quiet! I don’t care! Mom MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM!!!!” I couldn’t take it anymore! When I go to church I like to hear what the priest says and participate (ie sing!). So, when this question came up I figured it’s a good time to reintroduce our faith and maybe I’d get somewhere!
I started off with, “God created the Earth and all things in/on it in 7 days.” His response, “Oh, God created it.” He started asking about the trees and stuff so I was going to tell him about those 7 days when I drew a blank and the more I thought about it the more I realized that I really don’t remember ‘learning’ those 7 days. I remember reading it in the first pages of the Bible way back in confirmation class, but as far as what came on what day, I have no idea. So, I did my best! Ahhh, night was first I said, (is that right or was light first??) then He made sun to bring light to the dark, and the following days he made everything else! “Oh” he says again and proceeds to ask about each thing he sees (the clouds, the trees, the birds); yes, God made all those things. “The barn” he says, no not the barn, that was built by man. “Oh.” I told him on the 7th day God took a rest and that’s why nobody works on Sunday’s and we go to church. “Oh, I don’t like church” he says! Yeah, I know! Then he asks about the hills. This is where the scientific part of me kicked in. I said, kind of. God made the Earth and then the Earth did a lot of things on it’s own. I left it at that. He’s in preschool! I don’t think he really cares at this point, he just wanted a simple answer and he was satisfied with it.
That got me thinking, at what point in my life did I start making my own opinions on stuff like this? I grew up going to church EVERY Sunday. Went to every religious ed class and ya know what? I feel like I don’t know squat about being Catholic or anybody’s religion for that matter. I feel like we weren’t taught a lot of things and in the grand scheme of things it’s about what’s right for me. I’m a very logical person so I love to learn the scientific things. Love the Discovery channel, the History channel, TLC, ect. For me, the religious part and the scientific part go hand in hand and I’ve found a balance that fits ME. What about you? Is it one way or no way? Is there a combo for you? Do you remember when you started forming your own opinions on major matters? It’s kind of scary to think that I’m in charge of this little person’s life and instilling good morals, attitudes, and behaviors in someone so impressionable.
Now that I re-read this post, I hope it didn’t come off to “churchy” or religious for any of you. That wasn’t really the point! I don’t push religious views on anyone, but I do like to find out what other people believe because I think all aspects of life play a part in what we each believe and what’s right for each of us.
I have a really good memory, but I have to say I don’t remember much about these questions way back then.
It does seem like when I was a kid (oh, about 100 years ago), we didn’t get much into adult theories. We played and existed at the level of a child. When we wondered about unknown things, we saw images from picture books, dreams, and cartoons. My 2-year-olds experience a lot of things that I probably didn’t think about until I was 4 or 5.
Then too, my parents didn’t agree on religion when I was a preschooler, so they largely avoided the topic to promote domestic peace. They were “born again” when I was about 5, shortly after they placed me in a Lutheran kindergarten.
I do remember that we had a big Bible on the coffee table which had pictures that we talked about. But, unfortunately, I don’t remember how far those talks went as far as creation, etc.
I was a serious religious student from the time I started KG at 4. The Lutheran school / church I attended really encouraged an individual relationship with God, including reading the Bible through and really trying to understand and apply it. I’ve talked to many Catholics who feel that they don’t know much about the origins of their religious practices and such, because they were encouraged to be guided by priests, etc. rather than study the Bible and form their own intimate relationship with God. I only attended church for about 9 years, yet I know more about the Bible than most “good Christians.”
As an adult, I studied other religions in depth, so I have a different background for teaching my girls. I decided long ago that I’ll teach them Christianity until they have a foundation, but I won’t be exclusive / xenophobic about it. They are 2, and I am looking into a Sunday School / church so they can start the Christian fellowship thing. They are just beginning to awaken to the idea of God. Basically they are a “blank slate” and I have every opportunity to screw it up!
As far as the creation, I’d suggest just pulling out the Bible and reading aloud the beginning of Genesis. Most of the language is not difficult for a 4-year-old to understand, and you could use imagery to explain the parts that stretch the mind. Do I believe all that stuff happened in one week on the Gregorian calendar? Actually I don’t think that’s the important question. I always look beyond the stories to see what man’s spirit is supposed to gain from them. Whether 100% true or not, we have to agree that the Bible is a matter of selective reporting. Certain events were laid out in a certain way in the Bible for the purpose of influencing man in various ways. Why? I strongly believe that the Bible is based on deep truths that have stood the test of time. Regardless of whether you’re Christian, Buddhist, Atheist, whatever, it’s worth your while to seek those truths.
That said, I think the most important thing any parent can do is to live his/her values for the kids to see.
I grew up going to church. A very CONSERVATIVE church. I could go into a whole tangent about what I “really” learned there BEHIND the church but that’s a whole ‘nother post.
I do believe in God. I believe He created the world and all the natural stuff in it. I also believe we are Gods’ handiwork…I’m sorry but I’d rather think some being like God created me than to think that I evolved from an ape. Cuz that means some of those little apes didn’t pass and were left behind.
I believe in the bible. I also believe a LOT of people take verses and contort it to fit their personal agendas which is why I am having a problem with the whole organized religion right now. To be honest I’m struggling with my relationship with God right now and mostly because of what I’ve seen alot of the “pillars” of the churches doing (not just ours)…it’s a widespread epidemic. The churches are becoming country clubs and see who can get more people in and fighting amongst themselves for that rung on the ladder and yeah….that’s probably another post.
We probably forced our “faith” on our kids when they were little but now they are having to figure out what they do and don’t believe. At 17 and 21 I can’t force them to think like I want them to think.
did that answer the question at all?
My answer is gonna be quite short. Bailey has asked me questions about the world and God and a whole bunch of stuff I don’t even know the answer to. I tell him he can believe whatever he wants and if he’d like to go to church he can go with his Fana. I won’t push on to him what I feel, I feel that is unfair and he can do his own research and come up with his own beliefs.At what age though? I think any age they start handing out questions. That’s just me though, church was not in the equation for me nor was GOD ever spoken about in any way. I’m not the proper person to be asking those questions!
Maybe Christopher is ready to go to church if that’s what you both want. Have you asked him?
Actually Sue, I appreciate your thoughtfulness. It did not come off too churchy, but as I read I could feel your realization of wanting to be a good parent and giving thoughtful answers. It is amazing when you get the Big questions I like that your mind went in all kinds of directions. I think that is one of the wonderful things of life that we are inspired to question and to learn and to wonder. I have a I’ll never really know all the answer file in my head and some stuff goes in it. There are a lot of things I can figure out and Lord knows I give a lot of things a good ponder. I realize I wont be able to figure out everything it a shame really cause I would Love to.
I grew up going to sunday school.I believe in God.I read the whole bible once and have studied it.I dont put a denominaton on my style of religion.I am just a child of God.i have been hurt many times by people in the church.It took me years to relize everyone is human,everyone makes mistakes and NO ONE is perfect.I dont judge people,as I dont appreciate people judging me.In my opinion there is only one judge and that is God.So one day when I die,I only have Him to answer too!Church is a House of God,when I enter the Church i am visiting God.People run the building,but its still Gods House and I am always welcome by Him.
I have been through alot in my life,,many forms of abuse.And the one constant was my faith in God.At my lowest points,I prayed and he’d wrap his protecting warmth of love around me and give me peace.I dont believe I’d be here today without his Love.
I dont push anyone,I live my life as I am.I taught my kids right from wrong.I dont think i am a bad person.My kids all went to sunday school,they had fun.They all turned out ok.
For ?’s from them,answer them as they come,at age appropriateness.Simple answers will satisfy them.Kids watch mom and dad,grandparents,everyone they love.We mold them into who they become to a point.And they all still have there own unigue and wonderful personalities.
It was pretty rare for my family and I to attend church when I was growing up. We went on Easter Sunday and Christmas Eve and maybe once or twice during the rest of the year. I was baptised and most definately believe in god and the words of the bible.
I became much more interested in the subject of religion as I got older, mainly because I didn’t know much about it and thought it was something important to learn more about.
I am much like you Sue. I believe that religion and science do go hand in hand and have found a balance that fits me.
I believe that god created the earth and most things on it but mother nature had a big part in the way the earth is today.
I forgot to mention that you seem like a WONDERFUL mother and answered his questions very well!
Nice job mom!! 😀
Gary, I think the reason people turn to spirituality and religion as they get older is because they feel like something is missing. Eventually, most figure out what was missing was not a new car, a new home, but it’s God or a sense of purpose and answering “what am I really here for?”
I’m more of a Pantheist than a Christian but that didn’t stop me from answering my kids questions the best way I knew how with an emphasis on God and the Christian faith.
It’s a good basic foundation in sprituality that’s most important, not what religion you are. They’ll make up their own minds the same way we did eventually.
You’re obviously a good mom. You put so much thought into parenting and it shows.
“It’s a good basic foundation in sprituality that’s most important, not what religion you are. They’ll make up their own minds the same way we did eventually.”
I agree Trishatruly. I think you have to give them the basics so they are able to make up their own minds about what’s right for them.
My BFF’s mom in elementary school was very good friends with a very religious (Catholic) family. After like 30 years of this woman’s life of being a devout Catholic, she started having doubts and feelings like it wasn’t right for her. She left her husband and her 6 kids, moved to Israel, and became a Muslim! She married another man and the last I heard she is the happiest she’s ever been and feels complete. Like her spirit is calm and she has “seen the light”. I don’t think it matters what religion you are b/c it’s all about compassion for others and believing in something bigger than yourself.
Oh, I take that back….she didn’t become Muslim, she became Jewish!!!! Can’t figure out how to go in and edit my reply!
What is a pantheist? She is right- you put a lot of thought into parenting! Yes, we all make up our own minds. I remember as a child in Catholic school questioning many things we were taught and feeling like nothing connected.
For me, science only confirms my faith in God. I just don’t see how the earth, and everything on it, could have “just happened.” Take a look at the wonderful human body and every part of it that functions. How could that “just happen?”
I think you handled the situation well. Simple answers will suffice right now. He is still young.
“For me, science only confirms my faith in God.”
Thanks kweenmama, that’s what I was trying to say! As I was writing the post, it wasn’t coming out like I wanted it to, but that’s what I was going for!
I said that I was a logical person, but I didn’t mean that I didn’t believe in miracles. I think that just because science can’t explain it doesn’t mean it can’t be. I very much like to find the hidden mystery in things and if something doesn’t go the way I planned, it means He has a different plan for me.
Science confirms my faith even more too! It is so amazing how perfect everything is in nature and in science. I like to find the meaning behind events too. When Eric had his brain injury, we both looked for the good from it-what we could learn-Eric learned more faith in God and in his healing energy and he got to be home for the birth of our son. Bad things happen and we can always find good from it.
I’m kinda in the same situation as you. Mine is five…. almost six. He’s attending Catholic school, not for the religion, but because in our little town, that school is leaps and bounds better than the public schools that are available. But, he’s still getting that Catholic Learnin’.
Which means that God created the Earth in 7 days.
But….. the Bible never defines what a “day” is, does it? It never says that, back in God’s Heyday (ducking to avoid lightning bolt), days were 24 hours long. Perhaps, when God was creating all of this, a day lasted for a billion years. We’ll never know.
But put into that context, for me at least, it’s easier to reconcile the whole Creation/Evolution/Intelligent Design thing. See, all of those things make sense to me, and frankly, I don’t understand why all three can’t coexist. I guess that’s sort of the concept of Intelligent Design – God planned it out, and planted the seeds, then sat back and let evolution take over. Perhaps, somewhere along the line, he tweaked things – decided that dinosaurs were too big, so he made them go extinct; decided that he needed something to ‘hold dominion’ over the land, so he brought in people.
And it makes it easier to explain to my son in terms that he can understand, and I think, will help him reconcile those things that are worlds apart, in the years to come.
Oh, yeah, and when you look at things like Phi (http://goldennumber.net/), there’s GOT to be something “out there”… this world, this planet, WE, didn’t happen by accident.
I don’t think we were an accident either, and I never thought about how long a day was back when everything was forming. You made a very valid point!
I really think you did and answered him the right way. As long as your answers satisfied him, it was the right answer. I love the “did God made the barn” part. Kids are just naturally curious and as long as you do your best, I feel it’s the right thing to answer as best as you can so he’ll feel comfortable asking you things and trusting that you’ll answer him.
Sue: For such a big question, sounds like the answer fit just right!
I don’t remember what I learned when, and I think my awareness comes from a combo of God and scientific answers. When it came time to start raising Hannah with some religious involvement, we wanted to find a church that would be open to our entire family; we both had had negative experiences with churches. Hannah loves it, the service and the Sunday school aspects. She has learned so much, and actually has a very deep emotional connection to Holy week; it is really amazing to us.
I was raised in the Catholic Church and I am bringing up my own children in the same faith. I did not learn a lot from church classes or even confirmation classes either. What I learned, I learned from reading in books about the Catholic religion and just plain talking to my mom. My oldest daughter is making her confirmation this year and they are teaching them a heck of a lot more than I learned!
I also love History and Science and I honestly think it is all God’s big plan.
I’m Jewish, which means that in my religion we rest on Saturdays, not Sundays. What’s interesting is that in Hebrew the days of the week or just named after what they’re called in the bible! As in, “On the First Day…” and Sundays for us are called “Rishon” which means “First” and Mondays are called “Sheni” which means “Second” etc. and then Saturday is called “Shabat” which means “Stopped work” or “rested” because that’s what god did on the seventh day.
It’s funny how to me it’s so odd to think of any child NOT having religious classes – in Israel kids have bible studies in the school curriculum, there’s a national matriculation exam about it and everything. I’m totally agnostic, but I’m glad I studied bible in school because there are some incredible stories and literary genres in the bible.
It’s good your boy is curious though – questions are something we should never stop asking, and you’re never too young to start, I say ^_^.
Thanks for the insight SI. If we had bible studies in school here it would cause another civil war which is really sad. Maybe if we had bible studies, we’d all be a little more tolerant of others b/c we’d have some knowledge of their beliefs.
I agree with this Sue! Or if they just incorporated in school teaching about world religions as an elective even in high school. Did you know polls show 95% of the world believes in God? Found that out in this class I’m taking right now-spirituality and mental health. Healthcare is beginning to recognize and integrate spirituality more as they realize most believe in God and believe in it being part of treatment or healing in some way.
I do not have it all figgured out into neat tidy answers…. but no longer buy into the theory this complex world we live in just happened. I just wish the tone on both sides of the debate could be more civil (like this blog post)…what was taught to my generation as “fact”in the pubic schools is really “theory”.
If push comes to shove- if Jesus believed Adam was a real man who really lived and wasn’t just a symbol for something..then that’s what I also believe. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it. Interesting post…I too think you sound like a great mama.
Thanks, DM 😉
Great post Sue! I agree with all you said and especially the last few sentences. You are very wise to internalize his questions and ask yourself some deep questions about what your beliefs are. Finding out through research and learning other beliefs is the only way to become knowledgeable enough to realize what is right for you.
“deep truths that have stood the test of time” is so true and I agree about the bible. I was raised Catholic, and like Christopher and you and millions of others, I did NOT like going to church (but now I love to hear the sermon and sing), and didn’t feel I was taught the anything about spirituality or how the bible relates to today and to me as a person.
I took an Eastern Religion class during the time we married 3 years ago, and ever since I have been on a spiritual journey to find what works to me- I’ve meditated, felt God through this, and studied Buddhism which I agree with more than anything I have read. I have started to feel connected with God on a daily basis through prayer and meditation (just sitting and thinking about my feelings/fears or concentrating on breathing). I think of God as a Divine Force (energy).
I don’t think you came off churchy at all and it is so good to hear someone exploring. Spirituality is the essence of life-in our core we all come from the same Force-God and I think we are all connected this way. I think our purpose in life is to recognize this and be with God daily-not just on Sundays or afterlife.
Sue, there is a book Eric got from the library called like a Dummies Guide to World Religions, which is really good and helps to learn about the major religions out there. Also, community colleges always have a western or eastern religions class which is cheap and many older students do this online or in class. I have been to many classes with older students! One lady in my class this quarter is 65 and has 8 kids and 10 grandchildren!! She is going for her PhD! I have learned so much from her already.
Sue, I really liked your post. I think you did a good job of explaining and yes the Bible is understood by little children.
You can buy the children version of the Bible too and the Genesis story of creation is very easy to understand.
When I grew up I only went to Lutheran confirmation as a teenager. I memorized lots of scripture that didn’t mean to much to me. I was always searching for more. It was when I was 25 yrs old.(I am 65 now) that I finally “opened” my heart and surrended my life to the Lord Jesus Christ. Wow, what a transformation that was for me. The Bible says, ” Old things are passed away behold all things become new” Those scriptures now came alive.
I didn’t have to work or strive, the Holy Spirit in me changed me from the inside out. Now I ‘knew’ Jesus instead of just having head knowlege about Him. What a difference that made. Now, instead of wondering where I would go when I died, I knew beyond a shadow of doubt and still do that when I lay down to sleep at night and don’t wake up to this world that I will be in heaven just as God writes in His word. Yes, people and the church hurt me on my journey, but I learned early on that people are just that human and sinful just like me. but I was serving Jesus not people and I could always count on Him. I learned forgivness early and still am quick to forgive.I raised both my children to love and serve the Lord and my daughter is 41 and has always done this and has a wonderful husband and family that do too. My son(40) quit going to church when he was in the USAF but he still lives by lots of the principals of the Bible and God blesses him. There is no gurantee that how we raise them will continue.
I love the comments from the Jewish person, as I have a wondreful friend that is Jewish and now serves her Messiah. I love to learn all about the Jewish customs as it was from the Jews that my precious Jesus came. The New Testament is in the old concealed. The Old Testament is in the New Revealed. Easter season means more to me than Christmas as it is now we celebrate the death of Jesus(took all my sin so I could live forever) and Resurrection!
I wait for the day when He calls me Home and I can be reunited with my loved ones that have gone on before.
“Don’t leave Earth without Him”