Pin It
Saturday, April 30th, 2011

How Do You Explain God to Kids?

By
how-to-explain-god-to-kids/ Yuriy Poznukhov - Fotolia.com

I remember when I first showed my son an illustrated Bhagavad Gita—Our Most Dear Friend by Visakha. He was two years old and was too young for the text, but we gazed at the pictures together while sitting in our sunny living room as the fireplace warmed our feet. There were pictures of the Kurukshetra (the epic battle in the Mahabharata that was the impetus for the Gita), of Lord Krishna and of many beautiful things in nature, such as swans, peacocks, butterflies and lotuses.

Then came a page showing a little girl praying to Lord Krishna, who was pictured emerging from the clouds in the sky. I remember we paused at that page for quite some time, and I could feel a calmness wash over my son, as though he recognized something important in that image and wanted to take the time to absorb it.

“That’s Lord Vishnu,” I explained. “He’s also called Krishna. Vishnu is inside all the things in the world. He’s inside you and inside me.”

I doubt if he understood what I was saying, but I couldn’t help but wonder: do children intuitively have a concept of a Supreme Being? Do they feel that they are a part of something larger?

Through the years, we returned to Our Most Dear Friend many times and read other books about Hindu mythology—stories about Rama and Sita, Hanuman and Ganesh. All of the books had great stories to tell, but none of them answered that singular question which I’m sure was lurking in my son’s head: what is God

Such a simple and elemental question, the answer to which is the foundation of spiritual education and of forming a relationship with God. Yet how could I distill this answer into a 60-second snippet? Do I explain “God” as having a human form, as presented in the many Hindu stories, or was my son capable and ready to comprehend “God” as something more intangible? A recent Newsweek post cited that children see “God” as anything from a warm and forgiving surrogate parent to a strict punisher, and that parenting dictated a child’s view of God. What did I want my son to understand as “God?”

”God is energy,” I told him, “that is inside everything—inside all the animals and plants, inside our house and inside you. It makes things move, feel and love. It’s an energy that binds together all the things in our universe.” I explained that we have different names for this energy (e.g., Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Lakshmi) that we can pray to for strength, but that they are all the same thing.

I decided to explain God this way because it was a reflection of the Vedanta philosophy with which I was raised and ascribe to—a philosophy that acknowledges the divine in all things, living or not. This belief is the reason why my husband and I don’t swat flies (in front of the kids at least), why we teach the kids not to step on bugs, why we choose to be vegetarian and why we don’t step on books or newspapers—which to us are “living” objects because they house the eternal flame of knowledge.

I hope my son is able to connect my explanation of “God” with the ideals and beliefs we practice as a family. I think he can. As he grows older, he will likely seek and explore his own ideas about the existence (or not) of a Supreme Being—an inalienable freedom of thought that we as Hindus encourage. For now, I hope he develops a respect toward all people and a reverence for the beauty and fragility of our planet. For now, these things are his “God.”

© 2011 – 2013, Aruna Hatti. All rights reserved.

More Great Stuff You'll Love:


All I Want for Christmas is Perfectly Bilingual Children

Why OPOL has been harder than we thought.

How I Moved to Thailand with my Family on Less than $1000

It's cheaper than you think to make that move abroad you always dreamed about

Around the World in One Semester

Welcome to our newest blogger--a world traveling, homeschooling mom--to the InCultureParent family!

Is all the Hard Work of Bilingualism Really Paying Off?

I just found out the surprising answer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Aruna Hatti was born in Andhra Pradesh, India. She is an attorney and the founder of Gnaana (www.gnaana.com), a retail website and online educational resource center for the global South Asian diaspora. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, where they try to make learning of Telugu, Kannada and Hinduism fun and relevant for their two children.

Leave us a comment!









Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail.
Or leave your email address and click here to receive email notifications of new comments without leaving a comment yourself.

Get weekly updates right in your inbox so you don't miss out!



Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

Travelling with children, while definitely more of a mission, contradicts the old saying that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”

A Diverse Book for Preschoolers in Celebration of Multicultural Children's Book Day

A book that honestly and simply celebrates the every day diversity that children experience.

Why My African Feminist Mother Gave Me the Identity of My Father's Tribe

She gave me an identity so different from her own.

2 Children’s Books about Jamaica

Explore Jamaica with your child.

Costa Rica with Kids: Two Weeks of Family Travel

Two weeks of Pura Vida in a country with so much to offer families.

Should I Worry about My Child's Accent in Her Foreign Language?

See why Dr. Gupta takes offense to this question and where children learn accents from

How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad's language is limited

My kids only get 1-2 hours of the minority language per day-help!

What Cultural Norms Around Bare Feet Taught This Mother in Guatemala

Her baby's bare feet ended up being a lesson on poverty and privilege.
I wonder also that if your wife's native language (or at least one of the native languages) is Urdu, as she talks Urdu with her own mother, why doesn't she speak Urdu to your children? If you live i...
From How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad’s language is limited
I do call it latvian flashmob: just "break the door" and Come with my family to celebrate somebodys nameday. You Will never know how many guests Will be there....
From The Coolest Latvian Celebration You Probably Haven’t Heard of
I think spanking is the tool of the lazy parent. If you have to spank a child up to adulthood, then it is obviously not an effective form of disipline. Also, call me paranoid, but it seems like all...
From Are French Kids Better Behaved Because They are Spanked?
[…] Muslims fast for 30 days every year for Ramadan, which is one of the five pillars of Islam. Ramadan this year is happening during most of the month […...
From Ramadan: June 28-July 28
[…] What Makes Berkeley School so Great  from Stephanie from InCultureParent […...
From A California Public School Snapshot: What Makes Berkeley so Great?
Both of my parents are white (with roots in Ireland and England). My mother's side is very kissy-huggy, and I remember greeting both my maternal grandmother and grandfather with kisses on the cheek ...
From Cross-Cultural Parenting in Japan: Differences in Affection
[…] are so many incredible reasons to read diverse biographies; they can be summed up best in In Culture Parent magazine found digitally. The authors provided multiple valuable reasons but t...
From Ten Reasons Parents Should Read Multicultural Books to Kids
So glad to see all this and looking forward to doing it with our first come Sept, God willing. I am curious though, I see all these cosleeping articles and comments but have yet to find anyone expla...
From The African Guide to Co-sleeping
Hi all! American married to Egyptian and we are expecting our first in Sept, God willing. After speaking with many girls in the Arabic community as well as ladies married to Arabic men, most seem to...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep

More Tradition and Parenting