When my son asked me where babies come from, I hesitated only for a second and proceeded to tell him exactly where they come from. He hasn’t yet asked how babies are made, but when the time comes I will happily provide him with the information. Because, as an acquaintance of mine taught me, it’s better for them to get the correct information from you rather than incorrect from someone else. I couldn’t agree more.
But when my children began to ask questions about God, and religion, I found myself stumbling. Answering, “What is God, Mama?” has been much more difficult for me than answering questions about babies. We’re a secular household — we don’t go to church. My husband and I were both raised Catholic, but not very seriously. Over time, I’ve come to see myself as spiritual and find myself closest to anything God-like when I’m in nature. My husband is a certified agnostic. The question of religion and how to teach it is the proverbial elephant in the room.
Ideally, I’d like to expose our children to all religions so that they can understand all of them. As I don’t feel strongly about any specific religion, I feel it would be presumptuous to direct them to one particular faith. I truly believe that down the road, should they decide to follow a religion, they should choose what speaks to them the most. But in the meantime, how do I answer these questions?!
I’m tempted to do what Reza Aslan does with his family — read a little bit about each religion once a week and then incorporate into our daily lives. There is a difference between guiding your children to be good, moral, critical-thinking people versus guiding them to believe in a certain way. This is the crux of many parenting decisions. Do we want our children to do something because it is right, or do we want them to do something because it is what we believe? What level of control should we have in their lives?
I don’t profess to have the perfect explanation for my children’s questions about God and religion, but on my quest for answers I came across a few books that seem to present an unbiased view that might be of interest:
Perhaps some of these books will help provide answers to not only your little ones but to you as well. Because, as far as I know, there is no definitive manual on parenting!