My husband said I needed to talk to my son about religion for an upcoming Cub Scout badge and I froze.
The girl, who was baptized one faith, went to two completely different religious Sunday schools depending on which grandparent had me on which Sunday. Me, the wife that converted to Catholic because I thought that was the thing to do but couldn’t get anything correct during the mass from when to kneel, stand, what verse we were reading and what is a hail Mary? Really, I’m a terrible Catholic converter and I know it – it just confuses the heck out of me and standing next to Mr. Catholic Church School Boy, the pressure about killed me! I would spend most of mass trying to remember this or that and then panicking when I missed my cue to take communion. My husband tried to teach me and he was so patient, I’m just not the best student I guess!
After freaking out that I had to have the discussion and teach my son about religion I realized, I should be teaching him and I am, we both are as parents! Not the way some people would want me too or how some expect me too but in the important ways of having values and being open minded to loving and caring for all kinds of people without judgment. No, I cannot recite each verse of the bible or one for that matter but Sunday school (of multiple religions) taught me that Jesus Loves Me. I learned about Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark and the sacrifices Jesus made. Sure through coloring pages and songs but still…the important stuff sunk in and I became a good person, whether I went to church each Sunday or not.
Maybe, just maybe I’m the perfect person to talk to my son about religion and God and perhaps learn more about the stories in the bible together with him and with my daughter.
Naturally, I couldn’t just off the cuff have this conversation with my son I had to rehearse and figure this all out so I didn’t sound like an idiotic mom and then I decide to write it out because maybe it would help someone else have a conversation about religion with their child. Of course, this is what the conversation goes like in my head, we’ll see if it really happens this way and my husband will be with me, we’ll have this conversation together but I want to have my part down pat! Regardless this is what I plan to say to my son (in maybe not so many words or maybe more) and then we’re going to start reading together the kids bible and learning as a family:
Religion means believing in something that you cannot see, that something greater than us helped to create the world we live in and helped to make the trees the way they are, the flowers smell good and to make us all unique and special. Like mom always says, God made you very special or when you see something that is different than you I explain that God made us all different and all unique in some way because not everyone has the same color eyes, skin, and shape of body or voice.
Mom believes this is God and though I cannot see God it’s like not being able to see the wind or air but it still exists or not being able to point to what love is but being able to feel it. Like I know you love me.
Religion is part of our culture but not everyone believes in God the same way and that is okay. God gave us our own minds to think with and it is our job to use them to learn about religion and decide what we believe for ourselves. Mom hopes you learn to believe in God and will to talk God to for guidance and strength and that you’ll find the stories in the bible helpful. You see religion is everywhere even at school when you say the pledge of allegiance or in your Cub Scout pack, on our money, in our history books, art museums, songs and poems. Listen and try to hear how often you hear the word God now!
The stories about God are told in the bible and this book is really, really old and not everyone understands the stories the same way or tells them the same way and that is okay. Because God can be in any shape or form it is hard to prove or disprove that someone is right or wrong but it is what you believe in and have faith in. For example, mom believes that when you die you’ll go to a place called heaven to live with God but I’ve never seen heaven, I have my own beliefs in what heaven looks like and that I’ll see my grandma and other people I love when I get to heaven. Believing in this helps mom to feel better about her grandma being gone, knowing I will someday see her and that she is an angel watching over me.
Some people believe that if you are religious you should go to church or be a certain religion like Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, and Baptist and there are lots of others ones too. These churches are where people come together in a community under one roof, called the church and they go to learn more about God, hear the stories of the bible, say thank you to God and be with friends that worship God with them. The bible has a lot of great stories about helping people, learning to care about others, how to overcome obstacles and how our world was created. I’d like to read you some of these stories and maybe we’ll go to a few different churches and see how they come together as a community and love and learn about God.
You do not have to go to church to believe in God, God is anywhere in nature, at school, praying or talking to God in your bedroom. Mom talks to God and when I’m scared I ask God to help me find the courage and strength to be brave. Every family does things differently but if you believe in God and religion like mom and dad do, even if we don’t go to church, we believe in having values and principals like helping those in need, treating others as you would like to be treated, not stealing, working hard for what you have, giving to charity and caring for nature and animals.
Mom and dad believe God gave you to us take care of and love. To bring up as a kind, loving and hardworking boy, just like you are and we’re so proud of you. We do not know everything about religion, God or all of the wonderful stories in the bible but we believe that something truly wonderful called God exists and we’d like to read stories from the bible together with you if that is okay, to pray at night to God and begin to learn more together. Is that okay? You might want to ask dad some really tough questions about God and religion because he went to a special school growing up where he had religion classes and learned more. I bet he’ll be a great resource for you if you have questions!
Now be warned, I don’t usually talk about religion on my blog and I’m not going to debate anything so if you don’t have anything nice to say in the comments don’t say anything at all.