Talking to kids about religion

From the Mind of an 8-year-old: ‘Who Made Up God?’

By Wendy Thomas Russell | February 18, 2014

My daughter is on her rope swing, looking out into the blue sky just beyond the fence line of our front yard. She is thinking quietly. And deeply, as it turns out. “Who made up God?” she asks. “What?” I say. Because I am inside and can barely hear her. “Who made up God?” she asks again. I walk to the open door, pondering the question. It sounds as though she might expect me to name someone — an actual person responsible for the creation of this great character that she’s heard so much about. “Quentin Tarantino,” […] Read more – ‘From the Mind of an 8-year-old: ‘Who Made Up God?’’.
“Mommy, What’s Satan?”

By Wendy Thomas Russell | February 10, 2014

Of all the religious concepts that I’ve discussed with my 8-year-old daughter, Satan has been one of the toughest — partly because it seems awkward to speak of something so nasty and awful in a matter-of-fact way. But that’s precisely what makes it a great addition to “Mommy, What’s That?” a new series I launched last week, where you can find simple, straightforward and age-appropriate language to explain religious ideas to children in a non-religious way. So here goes. Satan: The short answer: Satan is the “bad guy” in the Bible. The long answer: In […] Read more – ‘“Mommy, What’s Satan?”’.
Addressing ‘God’ in Secular Families: When is the Right Time?

By Wendy Thomas Russell | September 16, 2013

When my daughter was 2, and barely out of diapers, she had her first Potty Emergency. We’d been having lunch when suddenly she rose and sprinted to the bathroom with the speed and determination of a hunted deer. I’d been hopeful she made it in time, but when I arrived several seconds later, she was standing in front of the toilet, fully clothed, staring down at a puddle on the floor. Her little shoulders had fallen. Without looking up at me, she shook her little head and said exactly what I would have said in […] Read more – ‘Addressing ‘God’ in Secular Families: When is the Right Time?’.
Can the Bible Help Kids Think Critically?

By Wendy Thomas Russell | August 26, 2013

Once upon a time, I would have choked on my own vomit at the idea of buying a children’s Bible for my daughter. The way I saw it, the Bible was an indoctrination tool. I no more wanted to crack that book open than I wanted to get her baptized or plan her Bat Mitzvah or teach her to pray toward Mecca five times a day. It was all the same to me. In my mind, only religious people read the Bible. But, times have changed. Today, I don’t equate the Bible to religion; I equate […] Read more – ‘Can the Bible Help Kids Think Critically?’.
‘Golden Rule’ — Beautiful, Universal and Very, Very Old

By Wendy Thomas Russell | July 15, 2013

It is a common misconception that the Golden Rule began with Jesus. In fact, it’s part of the reason some Christians think of their religion as synonymous with morality. After all, to treat others the way you want to be treated is the essence of moral conduct. And it was Luke 6:31 in the New Testament that quotes Jesus as saying: “As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” (Matthew 7:1-5 also addresses the topic.) But Jesus didn’t invent the ethic of reciprocity anymore than did Muhammad, who said: […] Read more – ‘‘Golden Rule’ — Beautiful, Universal and Very, Very Old’.
‘Jesus Gosh!’: Explaining Religious Sensitivity to a 4-Year-Old

By Wendy Thomas Russell | June 24, 2013

When exactly is the right time to broach the subject of religion with children? It’s a common question not easily answered. Kids are so different. The brain develops at different speeds and in different ways. What interests children at any given age runs the gamut of possibilities and is constantly in flux. So parents like me, we look for openings. We keep our ears open for conversation starters, and signs that our little ones might be ready to think a bit deeper about life and people and beliefs. We want them to be old enough […] Read more – ‘‘Jesus Gosh!’: Explaining Religious Sensitivity to a 4-Year-Old’.
Daddy, Daughter Discuss God (Again); More Cuteness Ensues

By Wendy Thomas Russell | May 13, 2013

My husband and 7-year-old daughter had another totally awesome conversation about God a few days ago. They used to do that from time to time, but it’s been a while since the subject has come up in much detail. I sure love it when it does. The talks are always fun, insightful, thought-provoking and, frankly, cute as hell. They also present Charlie with golden opportunities to teach Maxine about honesty, diversity  and the importance of kindness. Anyway, this one’s particularly good, so I wanted to share: Maxine: Where do you think God is? Like, which house or school… […] Read more – ‘Daddy, Daughter Discuss God (Again); More Cuteness Ensues’.
Kids Leaving Parents’ Religion Certainly Gets People Talking

By Wendy Thomas Russell | March 7, 2013

I’m hella busy today, but wanted to link to a few recent news posts about children leaving the faiths into which they were born. The first is informative, the second is instructive, and the third — well, the third is just trash. But watch it for the comedic value. Study: Religious Parents’ Divorce May Cause Children to Leave the Church The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion released a study Tuesday finding that children who have two religious parents are twice as likely to lose that religion if the parents divorce. The journal does […] Read more – ‘Kids Leaving Parents’ Religion Certainly Gets People Talking’.
Research Shows Baby Jesus Crazy Popular

By Wendy Thomas Russell | November 26, 2012

For the last few weeks, I’ve been prepping for the first edition of Relax, It’s Just God’s Shopping Guide, which, if all goes according to plan, will appear here on Thursday — just in time for the Christian and Jewish month of giving. (See how I timed that? Aren’t I clever?) The guide will give reviews and buying information about my favorite “props” — including toys, books, movies and music — all of which are intended to help parents talk to kids about religion without confusing them, scaring them or boring them to tears. Feel free to let […] Read more – ‘Research Shows Baby Jesus Crazy Popular’.
75 Reasons to Share the Bible with Kids (Even if You Don’t Believe Any of It)

By Wendy Thomas Russell | November 19, 2012

If we want our children to be religiously literate — and who among us doesn’t, honestly? — then it behooves us to talk about the Bible in respectful terms, even if we don’t think much of it is true. When parents call the Bible “a book of fairy tales” (direct quote from my survey for nonreligious parents), it makes the whole thing seem silly and unimportant. And not just unimportant in a religious way, but unimportant in a universal way. I grew up with parents who talked about William Shakespeare like he was THE MAN (with […] Read more – ‘75 Reasons to Share the Bible with Kids (Even if You Don’t Believe Any of It)’.

Relax, It’s Just God

A Blog for Secular Parents
For parents who aren’t religious, the task of talking to children about religion can be daunting. So daunting, in fact, that the entire subject often gets glossed over or ignored completely. Relax, It’s Just God is a blog (and soon a book) intended to help parents break their silence without breaking a sweat.
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