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How Do I Introduce God To My Child?

Discussion in 'Toddlers' started by Benadryl, Sep 9, 2020.

  1. Benadryl

    Benadryl Silver IL'ite

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    Hello,

    Wife is religious and prays to idols. I don't pray - but like to practice some of breathing exercises.

    There is never a conflict between us and as a result the kids haven't heard of any "religious conflict" and neither has our individual ideas been imposed on them. Now, the 5 year old has started asking questions about God. Who/What/Why is God? I am seeking answers on how I can introduce God agnostically or as a presence/nature.

    The questions from the child are rapidly transforming to prayers. Recent most was "I am gonna pray today to make me a good cyclist"

    The father that I am, I asked him who and where God was. He repeated something I had told him as a passing statement - "I prayed to the God in my heart"

    "Why don't you pray like mum does?"

    "But she prays to a statue.Statues don't talk"

    I am finding it hard to show examples of how I can explain that, mostly, all help needs to come from within, while making him mindful and acknowledging of grace from an external presence (nature). I am also mindful that the school(s) (and schoolmates) he will attend will play a role in shaping this.

    How can I be able to supply enough information as a means to introducing God agnostically in a way which will hopefully enable him to find his version of God/Religion ?
     
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  2. Angela123

    Angela123 Gold IL'ite

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    Stories are a good way to start with. It is not clear if your wife and you practice a different religion. There are books and cartoons that introduce kids to all religions. Also, explain what you believe in simple words. Be honest, but not confusing. If you want them to believe what they learn, give information on all religions and let them choose.
     
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  3. Brevity

    Brevity Gold IL'ite

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    I don't think any hindu prays *to* idols. Idols are only representative. That being said, I would discuss concept of God, in general, held by ancient to modern times across cultures and how it is different but not right or wrong. Ideas ranging from God in the powers of nature, unknown etc to God dwelling in all of us as the good in us. Put forth the various ideas of prayers and praying for things/stuff vs meditative prayers. Discuss it all with him. Encourage your child to voice his thoughts. Also, discuss with him the pros and cons of organised religions. Social aspects of religion needs special mention. You can introduce these gradually, in age appropriate manner.
     
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  4. vidhyalakshmid

    vidhyalakshmid Platinum IL'ite

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    You said you are practising breathing exercises. Considering the age of your child ie 5, start asking and explaining how the air plays a vital role in maintaining lives. Likewise God is omnipresent and omnipotent.
    Further, like each person has unique food preference, their way of of praying is also unique and different.
    No method is superior or inferior, each has own merits. Try to think in this wave length mainly with examples to allow the child to grasp and you can develop your own ideas according to the kid`s response and interest. My humble 2 cents.
     
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  5. Rihana

    Rihana Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    We fortuitously ended up with an excellent way to introduce our child to religion -- mythology. In particular, Amar Chitra Katha comics and couple of Bal Ganesh kind of DVD's. These provided the background and context for many discussions. These were necessary as other sources and support such as extended family, grandparents, or neighbors with similar faith were less.

    Keep it age appropriate. Often kids don't want answers as deep as parents come up with.

    Mom and dad should respect each other's level of religiousness or method of prayer. The respect has to be sincere, and not bordering on indulgent toleration. For example, mom should not pull up dad for his apparent lack of belief, and dad should not even lightly make fun of mom's prayer rituals. This will be the child's first exposure to respecting the beliefs of others.

    Who/What/Why is God? The same answer can be presented in different ways as the child grows. The exact words depends on the family's way of talking and other dynamics.

    "I am gonna pray today to make me a good cyclist." - Such innocent declarations provide parents with an invaluable opportunity. Gently introduce the concept that the human being does the hard work and practice, God/something outside of you provides you the confidence and strength, helps you overcome the nervousness at the start of a race.

    Try to let the questions come from him.

    In addition to sticking to keeping the responses simple and the discussions short, I found reading a few books on religion/parenting useful. One such book was https://www.amazon.com/Parenting-Beyond-Belief-Raising-Religion/dp/0814474268. I didn't follow the book closely but it gave me some structure. A few things I recall: "Losing the Holy, Keeping the Day", "Humanist ceremonies" and the most important for us: teaching the child social skills to use around people who are believers after being exposed to strong opinions of the opposite kind at home. That the way we talk at the dinner table about God and religion is not always OK to do with others.

    The short answer would be books. Books for the child and books for the parent. Read a few, find what works for you.
     
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  6. kaluputti

    kaluputti Gold IL'ite

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    There is nothing like stories that help in this direction like many have mentioned above.We cannot deny the presence of the stars during daytime, since we don't see them due to the sunlight's brilliance. During the new moon day there is the moon but sun's light doesn't fall on it, so it appears to be absent. We require special equipment to see the space, to dive under water etc., so we need the particular perspective to understand and accept certain concepts and things. We believe one scientist's theory till another one later on disproves and holds another theory on the same subject. When travelling in an unknown path, it is also advisable to take the path many have taken to reach the place and lived too to explain to the next generation. I really admire the child who asks such questions, it shows how you have encouraged his curiosity and inquisitiveness...kudos to you both as parents.
     
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