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May 14 2013

My Daughter is Learning About God in School

By at 11:51 am

god blocksThis post is part of our month-long series featuring different ways that parents of various religions have talked to their kids about God.

When our daughter, Hot Shot, was 4, we followed the advice of the Gospel according to Anne Lamott and sent her to a Jewish day school for kindergarten. See, Anne Lamott says, if you’re going to be an atheist, then fine, so be it, but don’t take it out on your kids. Give them spiritual mentors, she tells us. Allow them the opportunity of faith!

We figured we better listen, because, you know, what did we have to offer our little girl but an ambivalent pragmatist and an atheist Jew? Anne Lamott was raised by pragmatic atheists and she became a Born Again. We couldn’t have that!  Read the rest of this entry →

May 13 2013

I Never Talked to My Kids About God Because I Wouldn’t Know What to Say

By at 9:44 am

graveyardThis post is part of our month-long series featuring different ways that parents of various religions have talked to their kids about God.

It wasn’t until I was asked to contribute to this series that I realized I had never spoken with my children about God. Or so I thought. Sex, yes, doubtless too soon and too often. Death, yes, memorably. But God? I couldn’t remember. So I asked my kids.

Miriam, our 13-going-on-28-year old, simply said, “Probably not,” then returned to reading her book (David Copperfield? The latest installment in The Clique series? You can never tell.) Ben, our 16-year-old guy’s-guy-and-proud-of it, had a vague recollection that some conversation had taken place, somewhere, some time. Maybe. “I think you told us we could believe whatever we wanted about God, and you would support us,” he said. “But then again, that’s the kind of thing you would say,” he added. I was still patting myself on the back for my parenting skills when he asked me for a ride to the mall, and it wasn’t till I got there that I paused to admire his highly effective flattery. Read the rest of this entry →

May 10 2013

How an Atheist Talks to Her Kids About God

By at 9:28 am
cake with strawberries

The good dessert.

This post, part of our month-long series about God, is by Elizabeth Hunter, one of the winners of our writing contest.

What does an atheist say to her kids about God?

Nothing, if she can avoid it.

At least that was my plan. Before our first baby was born, I gave my husband the job of discussing religion. He’s an atheist too, but he came out of Catholicism with a much more detailed view of the Bible than my liberal protestant upbringing gave me. In spite of my Sunday school teachers’ best efforts, I never absorbed much beyond God wants your dad to slit your throat (Abraham and Isaac anyone?) and be nice. Read the rest of this entry →

May 9 2013

How a Mormon Mother Teaches Her Child to Pray

By at 5:01 pm

little boy praying

This post, part of our month-long series about God, is by Joyce Anderson, one of the winners of our writing contest.

I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some people call us “The Mormon.” Despite what you’ve heard, what you think about Mitt Romney, or what Broadway musicals say about us, we’re pretty normal people who just want to teach our children how to be godly in an increasingly godless world.

After my first son was born, and after the shock of motherhood started to wear off, I realized that I needed to start thinking about how I was going to teach my son about God, Heaven, Jesus Christ, and all of the other things we believe. I felt overwhelmed at the task in front of me, and I really didn’t know what to do, other than pray. Read the rest of this entry →

May 8 2013

My Daughter’s “Other Mother”

By at 3:11 pm

mom and toddler daughter in bedThis post is part of our month-long series featuring different ways that parents of various religions have talked to their kids about God.

In my house growing up, the intellect was God. We were cultural Jews  We ate bagels and lox, matzah and kugel, but we rarely went to temple and but parents didn’t fast or keep Passover. Judaism was the way we stayed connected to family, an excuse to gather, which I loved. At 11 years old when everyone started talking bat mitzvahs and my parents started talking Hebrew School, they couldn’t argue when I said, “I have no desire to do this thing, its all about big parties, materialism, and monetary gifts.” Read the rest of this entry →

May 7 2013

When it Comes to God, My Daughter Wants to Change the Subject

By at 10:06 am

church with christ statueThis post is part of our month-long series featuring different ways that parents of various religions have talked to their kids about God.

Our Lady of Loretto–the local Roman Catholic church–is within shouting distance of our home, and we walk by its sunlit, red-brick façade most mornings, admiring what my 6-year-old girl Percy calls the “sculpture” of Christ dead on the cross.

Most of Percy’s friends attend services at one of our small town’s four churches–in fact sometimes we see a few of them shuffling into the darkness of Loretto with all the zeal you’d expect of first graders about to endure a lengthy sermon–but thus far God has entered our father-daughter discourse less often than conversations on (e.g.) the debt ceiling, or certain elusive subatomic particles. Read the rest of this entry →

May 6 2013

My God Rants are Rubbing Off on My Kids

By at 9:58 am

angry woman with head in handsThis post, part of our month-long series about God, is by Pia Kutten, one of the winners of our writing contest.

The divorce proceedings are underway. I have lost my well-paying, highly respectable job. We have handed over our life savings to our lawyers and amassed even more in debt. I have been ignoring a subtle, yet persistent pain in my right side for months. Our baby refuses to sleep through the night. My father is gravely ill. Read the rest of this entry →

May 1 2013

My Sons, The (Maybe) Nonbelievers

By at 10:32 am

two silhouettes arguing

First up in our month-long series all about God is author Ben Greenman.

Before I talked to my kids about God, I talked to God about my kids.

That was tricky as I did not believe in him. It was 2000, and my wife was pregnant, and one day after dinner we were watching TV, probably something terrible, and I was overcome by a sense of what at the time seemed like dread but which I think, in retrospect, was awe. Both of those are biblical notions anyway and I cannot guarantee that they are not the same thing seen from different angles. I excused myself. “I’m feeling a little tired,” I said. She was happy to keep watching TV by herself–a little too happy. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 24 2013

Writing Contest: Are You There, God? It’s Me, Kveller

By at 11:58 am

oh god george burnsOver here at Kveller we spend a lot of time talking about breastfeeding and how to make the perfect noodle kugel. Though it dawned on us that we haven’t carved out that much space to talk about a pretty important topic: God.

So, in May we’ll be rolling out a series of pieces all focused on that all important “God talk.” That is, that conversation you’re forced to have when your child asks, “Mama, what’s God?” or when you decided it was time to let your child know what you believe.

What we learned is that you, our readers and writers, all have different beliefs and ways of dealing with the talk. In preparation for the series, we’d like to open up a contest. We’re looking for short essays (300-500) words about your experience with the God talk. Even more, we’re looking for perspectives from parents of all religious (or non-religious) backgrounds, not just Jewish. We’ll choose a winner and publish the essay along with the rest of the series in May.

Please send entries to with the subject line “God Talk.”

Mar 15 2013

PJ Library Corner: Interview with Laurel Snyder, Author of The Longest Night

By at 9:39 am

the longest night laurel snyderOne of the most unique Passover children’s books we’ve seen yet is the new picture book from Laurel Snyder, The Longest Night. Like many books of the sort, it retells the story of Exodus, but it’s told from the perspective of a young Jewish girl. And where other kids books may skip or doll up some of the more violent/sad parts of the Passover story, Snyder stays pretty true to the script. It makes for a compelling read, and we were lucky enough to sit down with Laurel and ask her a few questions.

**The Longest Night is a PJ Library book, as well as Snyder’s previous children’s book, Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to be KosherTo get great Jewish books like these for free every month, sign up for PJ Library. If you’re in the New York metro area, sign up through Kveller here. If you live elsewhere, check out this map to find your local PJ community.**

It seems like the plagues get a lot of attention when it comes to celebrating Passover with kids, but they’re usually cutesied upplague finger puppets, plague masks, plague bowling set, etc. The plagues in your book are decidedly not cute (no offense). Why did you choose to present a more realistic view of the plagues, and do those cutesy products mentioned above bother you?

Honestly, there’s something fascinating about taking the gruesome and making it playful. I’m not offended at all. But we should ask what we’re trying to accomplish when we do that. Read the rest of this entry →


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