Despite being born and raised a Catholic, in a VERY Irish Catholic part of North London, I haven’t willingly stepped inside a church for well over a decade (excluding weddings and funerals obviously). After seven years in a convent school, the sales job on God was a little overdone for my liking. Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-god now (cue the line: ‘Some of my best friends are Catholic’), I still believe, just in my own way.
I always knew I didn’t want the same prescribed way for my children. I genuinely spent most of my early childhood believing there was just one true faith. One God. Just one way. I was in the dark about other faiths. Even in secondary school, we only touched on Judaism, Hinduism etc. A token lesson.
Up until now, I have purposely avoided going in to details about religion with Maia (who is 4 this month). Mainly because I didn’t know how to explain it a) objectively and b) to a 4 year old – she asked me who the man on the cross was outside a church once, but I fluffed it! Recently however, we have been pre-school hunting in California and a lot of our local options were all-welcoming religious pre-schools. Maia’s face when one of the USA teachers started talking to her about Jesus and Bethlehem at Christmas was a sight – a total blank? Jesus who? 🙂
We ended up picking a Methodist pre-school, which we are really excited about. It’s not OTT on the Jesus front, but she will have to go to chapel once a week. This realisation has suddenly catapulted religion back in to my spotlight– and by religion, I mean plural. All faiths. I want her to start to understand, even at this young age, that some people believe in God, and some don’t. And that’s ok. I want her to start to understand that religion can be a lifestyle choice, not just an imposed one. I want her to look at other faiths in awe and with understanding and interest. Acceptance for the future – especially in today’s media climate. I want to try and explain why some women wear a Hijab and some boys a Romala. In the end, I guess I just want her to make her own decision about what can guide and shape her life, as well as others. If it’s Jesus, great. If it’s not, also great. She doesn’t have to pick any of them. Are you happy? PERFECT!
So I have been doing a LOT of research around how to explain differences in beliefs to pre-schoolers. I’m still practicing my lines, but one of the best pre-schooler tools I have found is this gorgeous book: All Kinds of Beliefs. So good, I wanted to share it with you, on the off chance that this was on any of your minds too:
It’s a pop-up book which talks in very top line (ideal!) detail about different beliefs across the planet – from Christianity and Judaism to Islam and Buddhism. It’s non preachy, objective and informative. I love it! I even learned a thing or two about what happens in a Gudwara.
There is even a pull out poster on religious festivals across the board:
I’m not saying I will get it right with Maia. Or Harry. I’m not saying I am right. But I know what I want – for my children to see and embrace all the beauty of life’s differences. Here goes….pre-school starts next week, and so does chapel!