A few of you may not know who I am, so here’s a quick biography. My name is Tom. I am married, and I have a 21 month old boy named Ethan. I like long walks on the beach, smoking cigarette butts from the ashtray (not really), and NPR news. The End. Now onto the post.
Ethan has been saying a range of words for some time now. He is taking on new words daily. Sometime in the very near future his little brain is going to take these words and begin to formulate them into a billion questions. These questions are going to seem basic and redundant to most, but these questions will be the foundation of how he begins to understand the world and what’s around him.
I am trying to prepare myself for questions that might come up in the next few years while he is a wee lad.
Example: Is there a God?
This is a question I have put a considerable amount of thought into, but with no answer. Eventually, at some point a god based question will cross my path, and I need to have a parental response suitable for a child.
If any full grown adult asked me this I would reply with a simple no followed by an earful of my nonsense.
How exactly do you tell your child or any child truthfully about the likeliness of there not actually being a god without fracturing his/her own sense of free-will to make his/her own decisions?
I do not want to persuade him into not believing in God (though I definitely prefer it). I want him to come to that conclusion himself, but then again I don’t want him packing off for vacation bible school when he is 5 years old.
Granted, when your 5 years old god, money, and other randomness doesn’t play a significant role in your life, but your response to these questions as a parent begins the building of their foundation of thought, and a simple understanding about life. So, I feel answering these questions appropriately is vital.
Amanda and I have had the “religion” discussion in terms of how to go about it with Ethan quite a few times. Amanda believes in a God, as I don’t. She asked “Well, what if I wanted to take him to church?” My response was “How old is he?” I don’t want him as a child (now-16) going to church. Am I being irrational? I don’t think I am. I feel taking him to church would be comparable to me sending him to a Nazi training camp, atheist cult, or Scientology what not as a child. I would just be plugging him into a different train of thought from early on.
Basically, it boils down to me wanting him to be his own free-thinking individual. I would prefer him not to be a sheep from the get-go as I was. I’d much rather he wanders down a path freshly made by him, and not the same beaten path of others.
Feel free to post a response. Tell me what you would do. One day most of you will have a child, or children. They are going to ask a God question. How will you respond? Obviously, you have time on your side, but if you had to answer right now what would your answer be?
ElTigreTom is a contributing writer fro ProjctGroupThink. Follow us on Twitter via the username PGTblog – all the cool kids are doing it!