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.

m4s0n501

More Great Stuff You'll Love:


How I Reclaimed My House from My Mother-in-Law

A whole year of arguing in the making

Si­, Yes: Raising Bilingual Twins

Language acquisition in three-and-a-half year old, bilingual twins.

Is all the Hard Work of Bilingualism Really Paying Off?

I just found out the surprising answer.

6 Favorite Children’s Books about Ramadan

Our top picks for Muslim and non-Muslim kids alike

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 We Need to Read Multicultural Children's Books

Children need to see the world around them reflected in books.

How My Two Year Old is Teaching Me Thai

I am just another "farang" or stranger until my son starts speaking fluent Thai

10 Things You Should Know Before Adopting a Child

What you may want to consider before sending in that adoption application.

10 Best Children's Books for Gifts

Our Editors favorite multicultural books for this holiday season.

Will Three Languages Confuse a Young Child?

My wife thinks three languages will confuse our child. Is she right?

11 African-American Children’s Books for Christmas and Kwanzaa

Try a few of these from this fantastic selection of African-American holiday books

What I Can Do as a White Mom After Darren Wilson’s Acquittal

How do I explain to my kids the racism that does not come in the form of explicit laws and overt, blatant prejudice?

10 Multicultural Children’s Books that Make Adults Cry

We dare you to read these without a tear
[…] Gang  · Grogg.org Growing Book by Book  ·How the Sun Rose  I’m Not The Nanny ·Imagiread InCulture Parent Indian American Mom ·Hey Mama His Mama    Java John Z’s Joye Joh...
From Multicultural Children’s Book: One City, Two Brothers
I am willing to donate but l am very sick presently receiving an intensive treatment. Tell me what to do Thanks, Mrs. Diana Wlat...
From Letters from Orphans
My mother in law comes with a different set of problems. She invited herself to stay at my home two weeks b4 my due date and chooses to sleep on the sofa almost all day. She sets her alarm clock to ...
From How I Reclaimed My House from My Mother-in-Law
Well, Asian is always has being describe only to East, Central Asia and the Pacific, but by knowing the Indian, they always mis lead the world, it's a common alter they have made to deceive their ra...
From What’s an Asian? Race and Identity for a New Generation
its not just white kids that be racist some can be black and Japanese and chine...
From Amazing Portraits of Biracial Kids
Hey Fiona, Like you I never spoke Cantonese at home and never had attended Chinese school. I had the unusual type of Chinese parents who were not the "tiger" type, more liberal and very open mi...
From How I Made My Forgotten Native Language My Child’s Strongest
[…] you enjoy cooking, here is a recipe you can try out: Yuanxiao Recipe  Source Ingredients:  4 1/2 cups glutinous (sticky) rice flour 7/8 cup (14 tablespoons) butter 7 oz (200 […...
From Chinese New Year Recipe: Yuanxiao (sweet rice balls)
OMG!!!! Lulu i agree with you. I am 20 years old and i am nigerian but i was born in london now i live in america. I get called a bastard by my parents because i don't behave "nigerian" or "african"...
From How I Raise My Kids to Respect Their Elders, Nigerian Style

More Tradition and Parenting