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:


Why Your Kids Don’t Need Sunscreen

Lessons in parenting from the Côte d'Azur

An Islamic Perspective on Child-Rearing and Discipline

Does Islam's reputation for severity and harshness apply to how Muslims raise children?

Why African Toddlers Don't Have Tantrums

The secret of why African babies don't meltdown like Western ones.

10 Best World Maps for Your Children’s Room

Because every little global citizen needs a map

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!




Huge Giveaway for Eid: Tea Collection, Little Passports, Little Pim, Dolls, Books, Music & More

Win almost $300 in prizes from awesome globally-inspired children's products.

5 Smoothies Your Kids Will Love

Healthy smoothies for summer your kids will like.

3 Beautiful Children’s Books That Take Place in the Himalayas

Beautiful children's stories from Nepal to Tibet

Why African Toddlers Don't Have Tantrums

The secret of why African babies don't meltdown like Western ones.

How I Made My Forgotten Native Language My Child’s Strongest

I started off by speaking dodgy Cantonese. No word for remote control? No problem! ‘Pressy thingy.’

Help Us Giveaway a Soccer Ball to Kids in Ethiopia!

Let's donate a ball to kids who need it in Ethiopia. Here's how you can help!

Tanabata Festival: July 7

A beautiful Japanese summer festival

Homemade Art Books for Ramadan

A simple homemade gift for kids
fb share: https://www.facebook.com/babysmamatimes4/posts/102046787393935...
From Huge Giveaway for Eid: Tea Collection, Little Passports, Little Pim, Dolls, Books, Music & More
tweet: https://twitter.com/babysmamatimes4/status/493423187175038978 from @babysmamatime...
From Huge Giveaway for Eid: Tea Collection, Little Passports, Little Pim, Dolls, Books, Music & More
I'm up to my "ears" in corn here in Indiana. My four kids and I are going to a water park next week. Prayers welcome ...
From Huge Giveaway for Eid: Tea Collection, Little Passports, Little Pim, Dolls, Books, Music & More
We live in Canada, and are picnicking on Toronto City Centre Islan...
From Huge Giveaway for Eid: Tea Collection, Little Passports, Little Pim, Dolls, Books, Music & More
Hi! We are in Texas and have spent our July swimming, exploring new places and staying out of the extreme heat. It's baby's first summer and she's doing great! ...
From Huge Giveaway for Eid: Tea Collection, Little Passports, Little Pim, Dolls, Books, Music & More
Excellent article. My baby is ten months old and sleeps next to our bed in her crib. I've caught a lot of flack for it, and I don't understand why - what is the rush to get them out into their own r...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep

More Tradition and Parenting