Children believe in what they cannot see. They seek God. “It’s like there’s a homing device in each of my children,” a mother told me, “God looking to connect with my child as my child looks for God.” When we talk to a child early about God there is an automatic responsiveness.
By contrast, some adults have had negative experiences with religion being drilled into us and want to avoid doing that to others. Some of us feel that spirituality is deeply personal, so children should find their own way. Some of us have no firsthand experience with God and don’t really know what to say.
Our vantage point is different, like in photography.
A mother describes the morning her daughter held the camera, moving through the house clicking at everything she saw.
“Can you show them back to me now?” She holds the camera out to me. Her arm around my neck, we scroll through her photos on the glowing screen.
Frame of a table. A doorknob. A bookshelf skewed on a tilt. Yet her photos surprise, every single one. Why? It takes me a moment to make sense of it.
It’s the vantage point. At 36 inches, her angle is unfamiliar to me and utterly captivating–the study ceiling arches like a dome, her bed a floating barge. The stairs plunge like a gorge. She’s Alice in Wonderland, all the world grown Everest-like around and above her.” (Ann Voskamp)
It is far better to tell children about God, even if you have doubts of your own.
Something simple, like: You can’t see God but he can see you, and he loves you. He is very good and he wants you to have a good life. He hears you when you talk to him. That is called prayer.
Emphasize what God thinks of the child.
C.S. Lewis argued that the most fundamental thing is not how we think of God but rather what God thinks of us–this relentlessly pursuing love, so bold.
Describe God’s nature. This blog’s Resource page has an video description of what I tell children about God. What can you say about God?
Tweetable: It’s more important to tell children what God thinks of them than how they should think of God. Click to Tweet