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How to explain "God" to 5 year old?!

(188 Posts)
godconfusion Sun 03-Sep-17 14:40:35

DS has a very religious grandmother who has somewhat confused him at the moment telling him about God/Jesus.

Conversation this morning began with "I can see God at the window mummy"

Lots of chatter lately about how God is a superhero (certain his GM has told him this in attempts to explain the concept of God angry) I had been ignoring and waiting for it to die off and don't want to start an almighty row over it with her.

So I replied saying "well you know lots of people believe different things and I don't believe in God like GM but some people do, others believe in different Gods they might call things like Krishna or Allah"

He responded saying "well I believe like GM because she isn't lying is she?"

I tried to say "no she's not lying because she believes it, but she doesn't know for sure"

He replied "because God is invisible, that's why. Is Allah invisible too?"

I said "people believe in God or Gods and that's fine and some people don't, mummy doesn't anymore but nanny does and I think daddy might but you can choose"

He came back with "well I believe in lizards that change colour"

I said that they're not quite the same because chameleons are things we can see with our eyes so we know they're definitely real and true whereas God isn't something we can actually see and know so we have to just believe or not believe

His response: "yes because Jesus is invisible and he made the whole world mummy and a lizard didn't so we can see them"

So basically I'm confusing my kid further... and need a really clear and appropriate way of explaining the concept of God without saying it's all bollocks (as I don't want to say that either)

godconfusion Sun 03-Sep-17 14:57:30

I guess nobody else knows either then confused

garud Sun 03-Sep-17 15:01:29

You're always going to be at a disadvantage if his GM is telling him things as facts (nice simple straightforward answers about who made the world etc.) and you're trying to be fair with, some people believe... Any chance you could get his GM to talk in those terms too? 'I believe...' etc.?

wiziliz Sun 03-Sep-17 15:03:34

It depends on whether you want him to believe in GOD/Not.

EdmundCleverClogs Sun 03-Sep-17 15:05:31

So basically I'm confusing my kid further... and need a really clear and appropriate way of explaining the concept of God without saying it's all bollocks

Oh I think telling kids straight it's all bollocks is the only way to erase this nonsense from society once and for all.

More sensibly, the best way to explain it is using the 'this is a story some people believe. I don't believe it for x,y and z reason, but it makes Granny happy to believe it'. I'd also use this as a good opportunity to teach the difference between 'belief' and 'fact'.

DesignedForLife Sun 03-Sep-17 15:07:11

Sounds like something to discuss over time as he gains understanding. It's a hard concept to explain belief and non believers to such a young child. Just keep explaining different people believe different things.

garud Sun 03-Sep-17 15:07:42

I think you're best repeating the same kind of stuff you've been saying, and if he comes out with statements about believing in lizards or some such, treat it as a change of subject and talk about lizards for a bit instead smile.

You will have more influence over his beliefs than his GM as he gets older. He doesn't have to understand/make a choice to believe/not believe now. Just keep talking to him and explain your thoughts as and when the subject comes up.

bluedemilune Sun 03-Sep-17 15:07:45

Well how did you explain santa?

Blossomdeary Sun 03-Sep-17 15:09:39

Unfortunately it is not just grandma's but also schools - which we all fund. Now that really does worry me. If your local school is church-aligned, what can you do?

godconfusion Sun 03-Sep-17 15:09:48

Problem with my child is if I say it's all bollocks (in a more child appropriate way) he will then argue this... zealously... with everyone... frequently. That's just how he is, it's hard to say he's wrong once he's decided something.

But I also don't really want to colour him one way or the other, I want to equip him to come to his own conclusions. And equip him to not necessarily decide GM is right either.

bonbonours Sun 03-Sep-17 15:10:57

I think what you said is fine. We say that God and Jesus are from stories in the bible that some people believe are true and some people think are just stories like your other story books. We think they are just stories but grandma thinks they are true (she doesn't believe that the gruffalo is real though 😉)

Huffletuff Sun 03-Sep-17 15:11:34

Tell him it's a fairy story but some people believe it because they don't know any better. Then tell GM to stop indoctrinating your child.

BoomBoomsCousin Sun 03-Sep-17 15:11:55

He's confused because it is confusing! Don't worry about the fact he's coming out with ridiculous things as he tries to assimilate the concept. It's part of how he'll work it all out. Just keep up with what you're doing.

We have a similar situation (non-believing parents, religious DGM) and along with the school and nursery's practice of teaching religious beliefs (of several traditions, not just Christianity) as fact rather than "some people believe" we've had some very interesting proclamations at home. Including the idea that Christmas isn't Christian, and that God can't wear sandals hmm They are beginning to understand the nuance better now they are 9.

Wanderlust1984 Sun 03-Sep-17 15:14:51

I did what the poster above suggested that it's all bollocks. Not even sure why the concept of religion should still be around in this day and age! It definitely needs eradicated. For extra effect I added that Trump (who DD hates) is dumb enough to believe in God grin

godconfusion Sun 03-Sep-17 15:17:40

I haven't explained santa... he believes in him and is happy to get presents off him and I think finding out santa is a myth is just healthy in learning not everything you're told is always true

However... santa didn't "make the whole world" "save the world" etc which I think is a much larger betrayal

EdmundCleverClogs Sun 03-Sep-17 15:19:15

Problem with my child is if I say it's all bollocks (in a more child appropriate way) he will then argue this... zealously... with everyone... frequently.

Good! Someone needs to. There's plenty on the religious side that think it's ok to accost you on the street, knock on your door or just generally try and shove it down your throat, we need a generation to be brave enough to say 'it's all nonsense'.

But I also don't really want to colour him one way or the other, I want to equip him to come to his own conclusions.

Critical thinking skills are very much needed in life, but religion doesn't allow for that. It's a belief in something that has zero evidence of its existence, how can anyone have logic when they believe in fairytales?

It's not colouring his view that religion has little to no truth, it's a fact until proven otherwise. I wouldn't tell my children that any other story they've read is possibly true, and allow them to carry this belief all their life - why would you do so on a very old story that doesn't even reflect today's society?

noblegiraffe Sun 03-Sep-17 15:21:59

Buy him some Greek myth stories. Back in the day lots of people believed in those gods. Now people don't believe in those gods any more but some people believe in different ones. I don't believe in any - I enjoy the stories but I don't think they are real. What do you think?

godconfusion Sun 03-Sep-17 15:23:56

If I was to tell him it's all nonsense... I'd want him to understand why.

He wouldn't right now. I'd be indoctrinating him myself

The family set up isn't one where it wouldn't cause massive rows either, and family relationships are more important to me than raising my child to be a certain atheist.

I want to help him not be brainwashed but not force other views either.

TheNaze73 Sun 03-Sep-17 15:24:03

Huffletuff is bang on the money

godconfusion Sun 03-Sep-17 15:28:59

There's no telling GM.

This is her gentle...

She's also not quite in the catagory of "doesn't know any better" in that she was a convert herself with a very emotional tale of salvation and fully believes in her personal relationship with Jesus.

But we still love her

bluedemilune Sun 03-Sep-17 15:29:50

"I haven't explained santa... he believes in him and is happy to get presents off him and I think finding out santa is a myth is just healthy in learning not everything you're told is always true "

but if you are telling him god is not true but keeping up the myth of santa won't he then distrust that not everything you tell him is true?

i get it OP its a toughie. i never understood what all the fuss was for atheists about God till my eldest first came home from nursery talking about how Santa would get him a gift if he was good. seems the way they teach the santa myth he has some of the supernatural powers they teach about god. able to cover the whole world in one night, knowing every little kid's good and bad deeds, hes visually very present. my eldest had a hard time believing me when i told him it was a big lie because the santa myth is ever present everywhere. he loved his teacher and couldnt believe she would lie to him - wouldnt believe me till halfway through year 1!

Pickleypickles Sun 03-Sep-17 15:30:04

Surely whether your belief or not it should be for your child to decide when hes old enough to, im not religious but would never set out to to make sure my child followed the same path.
People belive for all sorts of reasons but i thinm its importnant everyone gets an unbiased chance to decide what if any religion they choose to belive.
Keep telling him the facts as you are (that some do some dont) but i think labelling all religion as crack pot nonsense as some on this thread are is unjust.

EdmundCleverClogs Sun 03-Sep-17 15:33:40

godconfusion you can't indoctrinate a person with facts. The fact is, not only is there no evidence that any god ever existed (from any religion), things from the Bible and similar scriptures have been proven not to be real (starting with the world being created in seven days right up to 'invisible Jesus'). To suggest that a belief is equal to fact, when they usually contradict each other is always going to be confusing to a child. You have to take one stance and stick with it, religious people have no qualms in this, why should non-believers dance around the point?

TittyGolightly Sun 03-Sep-17 15:34:07

We've tried the gentle approach in countering the boolocks peddled at school, but had to up the ante recently after DD's best friend's parents genuinely thought the "free summer childcare" at the local evangelical church came without strings. 🙄

So we're encouraging the questioning of everything she's being told without outright reference to "utter bollocks" (she's almost 7). God now lives on mars and is a wizard, which I consider to be progress.

(I do address it with the adult peddlers too, by the way, and wouldn't hesitate with a grandparent.)

TittyGolightly Sun 03-Sep-17 15:34:43

We've never done santa either.

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