This post is part of our month-long series featuring different ways that parents of various religions have talked to their kids about God.
“I want to try bacon,” my 7-year-old son Zack declared the other night.
“Well, bacon, like, really isn’t kosher,” I said tentatively, always careful of giving him the kind of “because Hashem said so” answer my Yeshiva-educated husband learned to resent early on.
“I don’t care,” he reassured me. “So can I try it?”
Crap. I was floundering. “Hashem said no bacon. It’s in the Torah and everything.”
“That’s okay. I still want to try it.”
I’ve always loved that the act of questioning is such an integral and essential part of Judaism. That we, the people behind the Talmud, aren’t supposed to just sit back and mindlessly accept the teachings thrown our way. That our rich tradition encourages healthy debate.
I loved all that stuff, anyway, until Zack started in with his questions–and I was the one expected to provide the answers. Since then let’s just say I’ve been a little less gung ho about the whole thing. And the pork problem is just the tip of the iceberg.
Zack’s recent list of stumpers also includes: “Do people keep dying and being born and dying and being born for infinity? That’s scary–why would God do that?” and “Do you think that person got hurt because God was mad at him?”
How does one even begin breaking this stuff down for a first grader? And forget him–I’m not even sure what I myself think of it all.
So I’ve developed a strategy that I’m sure, like many of my other parenting strategies, will not be found in any reputable parenting book. I change the subject.
I’m not proud of this lazy approach–I’m really not. I never planned on being the kind of parent who delegates all of the heavy stuff to the Jewish educators in my kids’ lives. But instead of feeling guilty for wimping out (another strategy of mine is to alleviate guilt whenever possible–otherwise I think I’d be literally paralyzed by now), I tell myself that it’s just temporary.
Soon, when Zack is better able to handle more nuanced answers, and I’ve done some brushing up on basic facts and have composed a thoughtful and non hypocritical-sounding explanation for why our family follows certain laws and traditions and not others, I’ll sit down and get into it with him.
Until then, though, the plan is to just blow him off. And keep him far away from bacon.
To read all of the post in this series, click here.