Young Children and God

Young Children and God
The mind of a preschooler is wide open. And, in most situations, this is a phenomenal thing to watch. Approaching the topic of G-d with our children can be a daunting task because we – adults – often struggle with our own beliefs, thoughts and ideas. But, if you pause for a moment to place yourself in the shoes of a child and look at the world through their eyes, the conversation can be an enjoyable and enlightening engagement.

First, when fielding questions about G-d, it’s important to realize that there may be something else beneath the actual question being asked. There may be fear or an attempt to process something that was overheard or told to them. They may actually have an idea they want to share with you but do not have the tools to do so, so it comes out in question form.

A child’s questions and subsequent thoughts are a reflection of the developmental stage they are in. Young children are curious about what G-d looks like, where G-d is and why we can’t see G-d. Older children want to know about death and G-d’s role in the world, especially when bad things occur. Their ability to hear the answer also depends upon their stage of development.

Furthermore, while we want to pass along our beliefs to our children, we also want to ensure that they have the liberty to think, process and form their own beliefs. There can be a fine line between telling them what we want them to know and allowing them to explore, hoping that they end up where we want them to be.

I recently visited the three and four-year olds at my children’s preschool. We had a conversation about G-d and I asked them the same questions they frequently pose to their parents. There were some profound answers, some sweet answers and some humorous answers.

The first question was “Can anyone tell me what they know about G-d”?
G- d is everywhere
G-d is the star of the world
He’s the world
And a hero
He’s the sky
He makes people
He’s in charge of the world
He helps us if we run out of food
He tells us to go to the grocery store
G-d created Shabbat on the 7th day
G-d is in your heart
There’s one G-d and he’s everywhere
He’s invisible
He’s right here (pointing) and here (pointing) and here (more pointing)
G-d is a princess
G-d is a guy with a beard
What does G-d look like?
We don’t know
He’s pink
I think he has blue eyes
I think he has brown eyes
Rainbow eyes
Black eyes
G-d is not a person, he is everything
The blue sky

What does G-d do?
He made the world
He feeds whales
He can do everything – even fly in the air like birds
He builds the buildings
G-d helps people by making them better
G-d made me when I was born
If you say bad words, he will put you in time out
His job is to see
He works all day
He cannot get stuck in the mud
To make people
To make bread
To make snowflakes

Does G-d hear our prayers?
G-d hears everything
G-d tries to talk to us
Sometimes I’m afraid of G-d talking to me
G-d makes noises outside
I go to his house
G-d has the same house as me
I never went to G-d’s house and I want to and I want to see His toys

Where is G-d?
In the sky
And in the clouds
In the whole wide world
In the mountains
On the beach
On a fish
In the water
On top of a mountain
On a flower
G-d is here and there and everywhere but not in our room

Finally, here is our letter to G-d with the questions we would like to ask G-d:

Dear G-d:
What do you look like?
I want to give you a present.
How about Hot Wheels?
Thanks for making the animals
I love you.
I hope that you always think what I think
Do you have a dog?
Yes, G-d has my dog.
What do you eat?
Thanks for making the stars and the moon.
How do you make people?
How do you make salt?
I wish I could see you.
I wish me and G-d could go on a school bus in China.
When I go outside today and I go home, I’m gonna look out my window at G-d.
I like G-d to play with me and my light sabers
G-d made midnight
I wish I could give G-d a kiss
And a hug
I wish I could give G-d a present with ribbons and bows
I’ll miss G-d when I go to Disney Land
Does G-d have underpants?
Do you have kindness?
Do you get boo – boos?
Do you have any children?
Do you have any hair?
Do you have a mother?
Do you have anyone to keep you company?
Do you get hot?
I don’t know your phone number, G-d
What do you do with our blessings?
Are you ever sick?
How will we get our letter to G-d, you ask?
Santa can bring it.
Put it in his mailbox.
Send it to the sky. To the clouds
Make a giant mailbox out of wood.
Go to the post office and tell the mailman to take the letter to put in the clouds
How do you know G-d is in your heart?
My mommy told me a long, long, long time ago

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