Driving in the car with my five year old son last week and he asks “Mum, who made the world?”. Shit, how do I answer that?! He continues, “Because whoever it was must’ve gotten really thirsty ’cause that would’ve been a lot of hard work”. True that kid. “So Mum, who did make the world?” I was so not ready for this conversation; I did not have a prepared answer. Much like death and sex and all the other major things in life I know there will come a time when he will ask questions and I know that as a parent it is my job to answer them. But what happens when you don’t know the answer?
I’m technically a Catholic. I was baptised and did my holy communion and all of that but I guess I’m not really what you would call a ‘practicing Catholic’. I haven’t been to a church service (other than weddings etc) since I was a child. I don’t pray and I’m not even really sure what I believe when it comes to God. Is there a God? I honestly don’t know. I would like to believe that there is something, something bigger than us, a reason for it all but I’m not sure what that is. I believe there is some kind of afterlife, but do I believe in heaven and hell? I just don’t know! How do you explain a concept to a child that is so big? How do you explain something you don’t even understand yourself?
When our dog passed away earlier this year I told our son he had died. He asked a few questions, mainly why did she die and when was she coming back. But he never asked where she went so I never told him. We never had the discussion about heaven because he just didn’t ask so we didn’t push, preferring to keep things as simple and non-scary as possible. I think that was totally the right thing. But what would I have said had he asked? I don’t know. I guess I would’ve told him that she went to heaven because heaven sounds like such a nice place and it’s nice to have things to believe in isn’t it?
So, back to the conversation in the car about God…how did I handle it? Well, I kinda dodge and weaved and mumbled my way through a bit…. I told my son that some people believe that God made the world.
“Gawd. Who’s gawd?” (He said it just like that).
“Well he’s a man, a really powerful man…” But is God a man? I don’t know!
“Mum, do you reckon if me and Gawd had a running race that I would win? Because I’m pretty fast”
“Well I dunno, God is pretty fast. He’s kind of magical. Yeah, God is like a magic man. And he lives in the sky…” Fuck, why did I say that? Now I’m going to have to explain Heaven. Don’t say anymore, just wait until he asks…
“In a house like ours in the sky?”
“Umm yeah I guess so.”
“What does he look like?”
“Umm I don’t really know buddy, I haven’t seen him before, no one really has, because remember he lives in the sky..”
Silence. No more questions. Until next time.
So tell me parents out there; how do you handle (or plan to handle) the big question, namely God, with your children? Do you have strong beliefs that you will pass on to your kids or are you a bit like me and you just don’t know?