Conversing with a toddler on the topic of religion is … tricky. For us, it’s doubly tricky because my husband and I practice different religions. Our household as a whole celebrates both, so our girls learn both traditions.
That’s fun … but it also makes things difficult at times. Luckily, it also provides some entertainment.
A few weeks ago on the drive to Sunday School (to which I take her), recalled as best I could because I was driving at the time. As we chatted, Toddler was clutching her stuffed unicorn (of grocery store fame):
Toddler: “Why does dad not go to Sunday school, too?”
Me: “Because he’s Jewish. We’re Lutheran, so we believe different things and go to Sunday School.”
Toddler: “Why is he Jewish?”
Me: “He and his parents and your aunt are just Jewish. They don’t believe that Jesus was the son of God – that’s the main difference. They believe he was just a man.”
Toddler: “I believe in Jesus. But my unicorn doesn’t believe in God. [Pauses] Because he’s a unicorn.”
Fast forward to this past Sunday. We were doing a service project during Sunday School (cutting plastic bags to be woven into sleeping mats for the homeless in our county), and it really got Toddler thinking.
Toddler: “Are we giving these to God?”
Me: “No, I don’t think God needs these. We’re giving them to homeless people – people who don’t have a bed like we do. We’re helping them.”
Toddler [after reflection]: “Is God helping us?”
Me: “Hmm … No, not directly. I suppose he’s working through us and giving us guidance. [Here I almost launched into an explanation of the Holy Spirit, but couldn’t quite figure out how to make it relate-able for a 3yo.] Maybe these are questions you can ask the Pastor, honey.”
Boy, did I feel out of my league in this conversation! Well, sort of. Deep thoughts. How does your family talk about religion with young children? At what age do they “get it?”