This post is part of our month-long series featuring different ways that parents of various religions have talked to their kids about God.
God and sex have a lot in common.
Yes, you read that correctly.
God and sex have a lot in common. They are both topics that aren’t to be mentioned in polite company. They are both topics that make us uncomfortable to talk about with our kids. And they are both topics that are not one-time lectures, but ongoing conversations.
That’s right; there is no such thing as “The Talk” when it comes to God or sex.
Referring to “The Talk” implies that it is a one-time lecture, monologue, diatribe whereby the parent dictates, disseminates, mutters, or somehow communicates everything the child needs to know on the said topic for the duration of the kid’s lifetime in one sitting.
Insisting on “The Talk” for conveying one’s thoughts or beliefs puts an incredible amount of pressure on the grown-up. Because it means that that he or she has one shot–ONE SHOT–to give an entire overview of the topic. In an age-appropriate fashion… whichever age you decide is THE right age… and engaging enough to hold your child’s attention for what is likely to be a very long lecture.
An impossible task.
Instead of seeing sex or God as one-shots, consider them as an ongoing series.
In other words, sex and God are topics to be revisited again and again, starting from your child’s earliest diaper change or nap.
Yes, sexuality and faith are lifelong dialogues. And they begin with the language that we use with kids. Just as we used anatomically-correct terminology for all body parts with our children, so too did we use spiritually-correct terminology to name feelings, experiences, and body parts. So that it was as normal for our daughter to talk about her clitoris as it was to talk about her neshama (soul). And because we like to mark time Jewishly, we said the Shehecheyanu for every first. So that when his first tooth fell out, our son knew that it called for a prayer. Over the years, my kids have freely talked about their memories of God in the womb (Can you take me there? To the place where I was waiting for you with God before I was born?), argued with one another where God can be found (Ben: No Lilly, God really is everywhere. Lilly: God is in our hearts. I just know it.), explained their developing theology (You know, It isn’t like He is just one or just the other. God is half-boy and half-girl. That’s becausesome kids are boys and some kids are girls. So God has to be both so nobody fights over Him.), and debated God’s omnipotence(But the darkness in outer space that is more powerful than God. And don’t forget to sing Sh’ma before you leave.)
So the next time that your kid asks you about God, just think…he could be asking you where babies come from.
Ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Rabbi Rebecca Einstein Schorr is a CLAL Rabbis Without Borders Fellow. Writing at her blog, This Messy Life, Rebecca finds meaning in the sacred and not-yet-sacred intersections of daily life.
To read all of the post in this series, click here.