Let’s be honest, our collective unconscious drowns in an ocean of ideas on how to define god and existential theory. From the concept of a single creator, to gods and goddesses, to a force-like intelligent design, to a foot-stomping no such thing, humans have spent lifetimes arguing over the undefinable. We struggle mightily with how to discuss these ideas with our kids without damaging them and that struggle springs from the notion that we don’t often know what we believe ourselves.
But avoiding the discussion has gotten us nowhere and it actually thwarts critical thinking skills in ourselves and our children. When you have a topic as complicated as this, you don’t need to know the answers. You need to know what your approach is. My favorite teaching approach always begins with questions. “It is not the answer that enlightens but the question,” proclaims Ionesco. Critical thinking arises from the process of pondering the question and arriving at answers through thoughtful discernment.
This is the approach that serves our children and us as parents, on a higher level. This approach is so liberating because it flirts with truth and opens the doors for more profound exploration and conversation. It allows us to say “I’m not sure”, “Let’s explore that together” or “Wow what a great question.” When my kid asked, “Mom who created God?”, I almost laughed and then answered “I have no idea, but I love that you think so deeply about our universe!! Let’s talk about that some more.” I’m happy when my kid thinks deeply!
I am guessing that my hopes and dreams for my child are not that different from many other parents. I hope that he can tackle his fears and find joy. I hope that he embraces life and all that it has to offer, and I hope he thinks deeply about his actions and his connection to his human family. How exceptional his life could be if he finds his gifts, his purpose and his power and can harness those for the greater good. That is the journey of the open hearted.
I know that all of our kids are tomorrow’s philosophers, builders and healers, and as a parent and a citizen of this world, I dream that our children can begin to have a more inclusive worldview! May they not judge those that seek truth, but are on a different path, as stupid or evil. May they not be afraid to question everything. May we as parents not shy away from the hard conversions, and may we join hands with our children and seek truth, always. Let’s talk with our kids. They have a lot to say and we all have a lot to learn!
Edwina is the Founder & Director of Spiritual Playdate, serves on the Advisory Board of Omnia Institute for Contextual Leadership, as well as The Children’s Task Force for The Parliament of the World’s Religions. She presents and speaks on spiritual parenting, interfaith relations and the importance of interfaith education for children.