I am often asked by parents, “How do I talk to my child about death if I don’t believe in God or heaven?” My answer is always the same: “Lie.” The idea that you simply die and turn to dust may work for some adults, but it doesn’t help children. Belief in heaven helps them grapple with this tremendous and incomprehensible loss. In an age of broken families, distracted parents, school violence and nightmarish global-warming predictions, imagination plays a big part in children’s ability to cope.She preceded that with some statistics about the protective features of a religious faith and continues after to illustrate what good qualities her Jewish faith has helped install in her children.
It's not an issue I have, but I am trying to get my head around this. I taught Christianity to my children because I believe it to be true. I also believed it would be good for them, yet I can't tell if I believed it would be good for them anyway even if it weren't true. I suppose something like that must have occurred to me in the last forty years, but I don't recall it. It may be that the question occurred in another form. I'll work on it.
I have very mixed feelings about the premise of the article. How do you explain it to them later? It seems a terrible idea. Yet I do get the concept that it will be protective at a critical time. Not all information is appropriate at all ages. We don't reveal to children that their uncle uses drugs or that Grammy and Grampy have an unhappy marriage until much later. We pretend that things are fine. That is not an exact analogy, however, because we can just say nothing about those. A belief in God requires some installation.
What if it were now? What if I ceased to believe? Would I tell my children? It is another question that is hard to get my head around at this point. I don't have much doubt. I doubt many things that people say or write about God, but I have always done that. I regard my conversion as a done deal. I put my money down on Red 26 and the wheel is still spinning. I don't think in terms of saying "No, no, let me overrule that! Let me put much more money down on some other numbers instead! It's no longer my first choice." The wheel is spinning, I have confidence where it will land, I go about my business. My thinking about it is about the downstream consequences of my decision, not redeciding things. I may be unusual in that.
I do think that if I ceased to believe I would keep it to myself. Yet that guess is based on the idea that I wouldn't want to harm anyone else's faith, which in turn is predicated on the idea that having a faith is a good thing, because it accords with reality. There may be half-a-dozen angles I'm just not seeing here.