Six Year Olds and God – Keep a Level Head

My oldest daughter’s best friend, who comes from a strict Christian home, came over for a play date last week. The girl’s parents are in China on a “give a Bible to every Chinese kid” mission or some such arrogant nonsense. But I digress. I wanted the girls to get a chance to play under my supervision, so her sitter brought her over.

The next day, my daughter declared, “I can spell G-O-D and I believe in him!” This always happens after a visit with this friend. My husband and I calmly explained that, while it’s ok to make her own choices, we believe she is too young to decide for sure if she believes there is a god. We explained that as she gets older and learns more about the world, she might change her mind.

It’s so hard for an atheist parent to hear exclamations of belief from a child. I have to keep a cool head and remember that she’s only 6, she loves her friend, and she is mimicking her behavior. The best approach I can take is to set a good example for her because she likes to mimic me as well. I must give her space to explore her own thoughts. I didn’t have that as a child and I want to make sure she does. I want to steer her in the direction of science, logic, and reason, but she needs to come to her conclusions on her own. I hope that she’ll naturally choose reason over religion, and I think she will. It’s just so tough to hear her say she believes.

If you’re going through this with your child, hang in there. Remember they’re still young, and their minds are developing. Guide them, but don’t try to force them to believe as you do. The best you can do is show them the path and hope they take it after they’ve weighed all the evidence.


5 Thoughts on “Six Year Olds and God – Keep a Level Head

  1. George Romaka on June 4, 2013 at 11:06 am said:

    I love this blog! Great post!

    Only one gripe:

    What evidence?

  2. Wow, Wow, Wow! I could have written this exact post (minus the China missionary part)! Our daughter started Kindergarten this year and is apparently smack dab in the middle of a bunch of heavily preached to (oops did I say that?) little 5 year old girls. For the first time ever, our opinionated little girl is hearing about church, heaven, god, etc. from a group of little girls who are so young that there is just no way for them to form their own opinions about such things. This is why I’ve sought out and found your blog (thank you!). We’re struggling with it. Husband and I would both call ourselves agnostic (but very likely atheist) and will raise our kids to be free-thinkers and hopefully not follow others just because they are pressured to do so. This morning my daughter said, “I just can’t believe that my best friend believes such things and thinks the world was made with the wave of a wand! And now she says I can’t join into the god game since I don’t believe the same as all them.” Breaks my heart and makes me so angry. It’s a daily topic here and we say much of what you stated in this post. But it keeps coming up and DD is feeling alone in this group who just can’t seem to STOP talking about their church and beliefs while at school. Seriously? I grew up in a heavily Mormon and Nazarene population and didn’t get this much pressure at such a young age.

  3. At this age they also believe in tooth fairy, santa claus, and other mythical creatures. I wouldn’t worry at all.

  4. I know this post is super old, but I just stumbled on it while looking for a toddler day plan that didn’t involve prayer and devotionals. So bear with me.
    This is a super awkward position that I find myself in, regularly. My husband’s entire family is pretty devoutly Christian/Catholic, so every holiday we get at least one children’s book on Jesus. I don’t toss them, but it makes it really awkward for me when my 2 year old wants me to read him any of these books. I’m not afraid of religion, I don’t avoid churches, and I totally respect the faith of others. But when I read through this stuff, it’s like I’m just paying lip service to something I don’t believe in at all. I know at some point my husband’s family is going to want to take him to church…which again, I don’t really care. I went to church sometimes as a kid, and I’m no more broken for it…but I’ll never know exactly how to talk to him about it afterward when he wants to talk about how God is good.
    I’m sorry, that was rambling and didn’t really have a point. I just wanted to say that there are readers out here that don’t believe that you’re literally the anti-christ because you don’t subscribe to their version of what happens after death.

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