I'm sure many of us have had those awkward moments dealing with Christian family members and I wanted to share an experience that happened the other day. I was helping care for my husband's grandmother when she started the Jesus conversation with my three year old daughter. I generally stay out of the frequent god talks, and just talk to my kids afterwards. But the other day she grabbed my little girl by the shoulders and said "Did you know that God is your father in heaven and that he loves you so much?' My daughter said "No, he's not my father. My father is my dad and he lives at my house." I had to turn away and bite my tongue to keep from laughing. Great-grandma let her go and that was the end of it. Natural skepticism, love it!
That's hilarious. One of my daughter's playmates (my daughter is also three) is jewish. I took the two girls to the local children's museum. On the way in, it started to rain and my daughter's friend commented that "God pours the rain." My daughter, who adores her friend, who is a year older than she is, and generally goes along with anything her friend says, immediately started nodding enthusiastically, then got a very confused look on her face and said "Yeah.... No! The clouds do!" I was quite proud!
Since we are on the subject, and you also have a daughter the same age, can I ask you how you answer her questions about religion? We live in the middle east. Our building has a jewish family, a muslim family and us (atheists) and her school is equally diverse, having children from several different countries and a wide variety of religions. Our block has an eastern orthodox cathedral, a mosque and a catholic church. Religion is totally unavoidable here and my daughter has started to ask questions about it. She asked me the other day who god is. We've always told her that Mommy and Daddy made her, so I told her that some people believe that god makes people instead of mommies and daddies. I found it funny and a bit disturbing that she instantly said "but we don't believe that, right?" and unquestioningly took our side on the issue. It's not that I don't want my daughter to grow up free from religion, but I want her to be able to think freely, regardless of what I think. While I understand that it's ridiculous to expect a three-year-old to have her own opinions about god, I don't want to indoctrinate her to my way of thinking the way I was indoctrinated at her age, and make it difficult for her to judge for herself later.
My other difficulty with answering her questions is that some of her questions are far beyond her ability to grasp any sort of real answer. She recently asked me what DNA is. I want to encourage her curiosity and give her realistic answers, but how do you simplify an answer to a question like that? I'm finding that my answers don't satisfy her.
Hi Kim, I've actually thought about this too. I'm a relatively new atheist, I was active in the church for many years. My deconversion came just a few years ago. I have a ten year old that spent the first 7 years going to a Christian school. I've had discussions with her, specifically when we changed the school she was attending. I decided to be upfront with her, I told her that I was no longer a Christian which meant that I did not believe in God. To my astonishment she brought up doubts of her own and told me she didn't believe in hell, and after wanting to identify the way she felt she decided she was agnostic.
I haven't had too many conversations with my three year old yet because they haven't really come up but I think I know how I'd respond if she said "but we don't believe that right?". I would answer that "I don't believe it, but you can decide for yourself. When you are older you may understand it a little more, but if you have any questions you can ask me." Also because I used to be a Christian I might say something like "A lot of people believe in God, I used to but I no longer believe in God" Basically I'd make it an "I" instead of a "we".
As far as the DNA question I'm a novice but my husband is a biologist. I would suggest checking out a book on DNA for kids Like My First Book About DNA. Or you could just give a very simple definition to her that won't confuse her like "DNA is the stuff that makes us". Kinda simple, but it's for a three year old.
Good luck and thanks for sharing.
Ah yeah, the youth are great teachers, yet when the supposed leaders act like children and think all kids are submissive by default, BS! they are!