One day during school, Harmonie said something that made me take note that she was not completely on board with the existence of God. She can not see him, so he can’t be real was keep of the jest of the conversation. We have this same conversation about her late father. I did my best to explain to her that just because you can not see something does not mean it does not exist. 8 year old children need proof. This got me to thinking: How do you teach kids to believe in something they can not see?
When I was eight I believed in God because I was taught to believe. My daughter is being taught to believe. She went to Catholic school for three years and is now affiliated with a Catholic Home Study School so we talk about God everyday. She believes he exist but I think that sometimes she is skeptical about his power. She’s has her mother’s skeptical gene. Poor Kid! When her father died, I tried to explain to her that he is always with her. That even though she could not see him, he could see her and is right there with her. That didn’t go over so well. In her eyes, she couldn’t see him so he wasn’t there.
So how do we teach faith, because ultimately that is what it is. For me, every opportunity to show God’s miracles or grace I bring them to her attention. When we were stranded because we ran out of gas and no one we knew would come to our aid but a stranger randomly came up to help, I spoke to her about how God sent us a good Samaritan, like in the story, to help us. When she misbehaves and suddenly gets hurt or pops her balloon, I remind her that God does not approve of her behavior. OK, I probably should have taught her the concept of Karma instead but work with me here. We’re taking one road at a time. If you pay attention, God reveals himself all the time. I think it’s up to me to notice and quickly point it out.
A little time has gone by since we originally had our conversation about whether or not God exist. God has revealed a few things for me to point out and I’ve gotten her to believe that her dad is around watching over her, though that is still a work in progress, but we keep trying. It’s amazing to me because kids believe in the Tooth Fairy and Santa without a problem, of course we give them false proof that they exist through surprise gifts. Taking us right back to square one. Proof!
When I was a kid, the way I explained God’s existence was: People believe in ghost, but you can’t see them. If you can believe that ghost exist you can believe in God. Faith is not an easy topic to teach to adults. I’m learning that it is not so easy to teach children either. Especially, a kid like mine, who has such a literal mindset. She did not go through the monsters under my bed stage. She does not believe in monsters. I guess I have to just keep searching for the cues from God and use those to teach faith. What do you think?
What do you do to get your kids to believe? What advice do you have to get kids to believe in what they can’t see?