By Veronica

“There’s no such thing as…” my three-year-old blurted out in the middle of church yesterday. I don’t know what word she was going to say next – it could have been anything from unicorns to effective low-flow toilets – but I swooped her up and carried her out of the sanctuary anyway. I had a sneaking suspicion she was going to say “God.”

We are Christians and are raising our children in the faith. That leads to some interesting conversations, such as the one where my five-year-old insisted that she understood the Trinity even if no one else did. I offered to publish her thoughts and earn us a gazillion dollars, but she declined.

Other times our faith becomes the item the kids use to test the boundaries. The same five-year-old has begun contradicting me about any random thing, and sometimes the random things are Christian doctrine. “Jesus does NOT love everybody! Jesus did NOT rise from the dead!” These statements are intended to shock us, paralyzing us with horror so that we forget that we told her no more cookies today.

But instead of shock, we usually respond with calm reiterations of our beliefs, or sometimes mild sarcasm, which goes over her head. I am not afraid of my child’s apparent irreverence. That is part of childhood. When my brother was a boy, blamming away with his cap guns, he shouted once that he was going to “shoot Jesus!” It scandalized the church folk, but my parents barely batted an eye.

When my little one piped up in church with “There is no such thing as…” I did not know what would happen next. If the next word had been “God,” I admit I did not relish the thought of the handful of grouches in my church who would mutter, “Well, she must hear talk like that at home.” But I also know that my girl is just a girl, and for now, most of the things she says on that subject will be for attention, to shock me or to gain my approval.

Faith either fades away with childhood or it becomes real, something more than just the culture we inherit from our parents. I want my girls to someday believe, not because I have told them something is true, but because they themselves have been convinced. If she expresses real doubt later in life, then we will respond to it then. For now, we try to show her that mom and dad love forever, unshockably, no matter what she says or does.

And so does God.

You can find Veronica blogging at Toddled Dredge.

14 Responses to Blasphemy
  1. Stephanie
    March 3, 2009 | 9:57 am

    Oh gee, I don’t know what else to say other than Amen.


  2. Beck
    March 3, 2009 | 11:01 am

    GREAT post. (I should think of something else to write on your posts, eh?)
    So many people take what their very young children say too seriously, too much to heart.

  3. magpie
    March 3, 2009 | 12:21 pm

    Curious – I’m having the same thing from my child – though in reverse. I’m a bred-in-the-bone atheist; the child keeps telling me that she believes in god. Go figure. They’re just testing us, themselves, the world.

  4. allysha
    March 3, 2009 | 12:43 pm

    Kids love to try and push buttons. I love how you handle this.

    And I think God deals with us much in the same way. I’m sure we have all sorts of crazy ideas about how things work and he waits patiently until we grow up and can understand what he was saying all along.

  5. Kelly
    March 3, 2009 | 4:01 pm

    Good to know we aren’t the only ones lobbing sarcastic replies to our children.

    Perfect post, as usual, Veronica.

  6. Happy Geek
    March 3, 2009 | 5:19 pm

    I’m just commenting as I’d like your kids to stay healthy.

    I agree. An inherited faith does not ever fit well. It’s one that grows through thought and reflection that stays whole and healthy.

  7. Musings of a Housewife
    March 3, 2009 | 5:26 pm

    I really have nothing to add except AMEN! 🙂

  8. Jenny 867-5309
    March 3, 2009 | 6:12 pm

    As missionary kids we would get very bored having to sit all nice and pretty during “another stinkin’ Sunday School class with a bunch of people staring” so my brother would always try to make it interesting by asking the teacher goofy questions like, “Did Jesus use toilet paper? Where’s your proof?” He was always up for a good laugh.

  9. Terri
    March 4, 2009 | 7:23 am

    I am one of those mothers who tend to gasp in horror when her child says something shocking. I remember when my older daughter, who was maybe four or five at the time, said she wished her sister would die. She wasn’t even upset with her sister, but rather matter-of-factly stated it as if she was testing what those words would sound like if uttered aloud. I was horrified and immediately gave her a stern lecture which reduced her to tears. Even if she was trying to be shocking, in retrospect I realize I could have used that teachable moment much more effectively.

  10. rahraht
    March 5, 2009 | 1:13 am

    hee-hee, I’m with #6 here. Don’t want anything to happen to your girls 😉
    Also appreciate your wise response to normal childish foolishness.

  11. nicole
    March 5, 2009 | 6:41 pm

    Sarcasm that is not even caught is kind of fun. Does that make me a bad mom?

  12. IE Mommy
    March 5, 2009 | 8:28 pm

    Expressing unconditional love to our children is one of the best ways to represent Christ to them.

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