Kveller writers talk G-d with their kids

The Jewish parenting website Kveller is running a series right now on parenting. They’ve got 5 perspectives so far, and I have to admit I have mixed feelings.

They seem to have picked some extreme situations–a mom who clearly has OCD, a kid who has chosen Communism over Judaism–but also some pretty normal ones, like the soon-to-be dad finally realizes the fate of his unborn child is out of his hands and chats with G-d about protecting him and (this had me laughing both out of amusement and empathy) the mother whose kids imitate G-d saying, “No!” to each and every request she makes at a trying stage of life.

What surprised me most is that so far most of the parents seem to not have thought about what they would say about G-d before talking about Him with the kids. Some of the stories are frankly depressing, like watching the blind leading the blind. Not surprisingly, their fumbling responses get some pretty sad results.

But I just love that a non-Orthodox (at least, not only Orthodox) Jewish website is hitting this issue, which largely goes undiscussed in polite American circles. And we’re getting a real glimpse into American Jewish households to see what’s going on in there.

It’s pretty harrowing.

Sure G-d says, “No,” an awful lot. But what about all the times it turned out good for you?

What about saying, “Thanks, G-d!” every time you experiences a moment of joy? “Thanks for the parking space!” and “Thanks for there being exactly enough cupcakes for us all!” make an impression on kids as much as all those heaven-sent No’s.

What about discussing with your co-parent about how you’ll represent G-d to your kids ahead of the “Big Talk?” Because it’s as much of a Talk as the more famous one, and requires at least as much forethought.

Something that surprised me also was that no one really mentioned sharing books about G-d with their kids. A lot of the what I’ve communicated with my own kids about G-d has come from books and magazines, like  Where are You Hashem?, The Invisible Book, and Hashem is Truly Everywhere.

Do any readers out there have literature they like to share with their kids to enhance their “G-d Talk?”

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7 thoughts on “Kveller writers talk G-d with their kids

  1. I’m a big proponent of saying a little prayer of thanks every time something good happens (I do this a lot for parking spaces and green lights; it’s the little things — although perhaps parking spots in Southern California are pretty rare). I remember years ago someone telling me that the Lord above wanted to hear not only about our trials but about our joys as well; only praying in times of distress would be like only complaining at dinner with family every night rather than sharing the interesting, fun things that happened, too.

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  2. My preschooler grasps readily that there are many ways to relate to God. Some of these come from books (we especially like Hashem is Truly Everywhere), others come from the tot Shabbat program at our Shul where the kids jump joyfully chanting “there is just one God, Adonai ehad”, and still others come from observing his parents saying “Thank God” from joy or relief.

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    • I like your insight about synagogue participation. I think a couple of the essays mentioned it, but it sounded like a drag or not very G-d-focused.

      One of my biggest G-d moments from childhood to this day is during Neilah on Yom Kippur. It’s so joyful and connects us to Hashem. So not the whole: “It’s the High Holy Days and the big King with a frowny face in the sky is gonna decide whether to kill you or not this coming year,” that gives a lot of people a complex.

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