Kids And Religion: Why I Don't Talk To My Son About God
By Amber Doty
Uncomfortable questions. They are part of motherhood.
"Why aren't grandma and grandpa married? Where do babies come from? Why does my wiener do this weird thing sometimes, mom?"
I answer them all as they come and as honestly and appropriately as I can. I cringe, I squirm, and then I find some way to respond that stretches my creativity paper thin. Often my answer is met with skepticism. Five-year-olds are skilled interrogators and they can smell fear. Not satisfied that "babies come from mommies," Anders will always go for the follow up.
For the rest of my life I will be coming up with a way to side-step the question "But how do the babies get into the mommy's tummy?" or its equivalent and I thought that was the worst of it until yesterday.
Until then all of the questions Anders asked have had answers, solid answers rooted in fact and it was up to me how many of those facts he was ready to hear. Then out of nowhere, as most of these questions seem to come, he spoke up from the backseat as we were driving home from school.
"Mom, does God put people on Earth?"
This is the part where I invite you to raise your eyebrows, shake your head, write a strongly worded comment, but I have never, not once, spoken to my son about God. It's not something I've purposely censored, but I don't go to church. I haven't in many years. Neither has my husband and that means, as a family, we don't go to church.
"Where did you hear about God?" I asked.
"I don't know, but does he? Does God put people on Earth?"
I wasn't prepared for that question. The mechanics of procreation, human anatomy, Santa’s existence... those I could have tackled. But the origin of the universe? Given a day's lead time I wouldn't have had a reply with which I would be satisfied. I know, because a day has passed since then and, after giving it a lot of thought, I wouldn't have a better answer should he pose the question again tomorrow. I told him what I know and that was simply that I don't know.
I endured the standard "why's" and the "just tell me's," but in the end, the song on the radio changed, his tummy rumbled, the toy his sister was holding was allegedly his, and, like many times before, I was saved by a short attention span.
That moment has been rolling around in my head since yesterday and here's the thing -- I think this is an area of life where I prefer to give him no guidance. It may actually be the only instance in his life where I don't want input.
The granddaughter of a minister, I am no stranger to religion. I spent many a day in my life, head bowed, beneath the roof of a church, but I just don't want that for my son. To me spirituality is deeply personal. I can no more choose his religion than I can his sexuality.
The answer to that question is one he may seek all his life. If he is like me, there will be times when he will be more certain of the answer than others. When he is old enough to ask me for an opinion, perhaps then I will answer him, but right now, while he still relies on me to give meaning to the world around him, I will give him the truth where it matters.
Did God put people on Earth? My answer to that question has been shaped from a lifetime of experiences and personal reflection and this is how I want my son's to form as well.