One of our great moms sent me a question recently: How does UUism respond to kids’ big questions about war, death, injustice?
Such things can’t always be summarized – or even articulated sometimes! – but here’s my impression.
- Before there are ever Big Questions, build up the relationship of trust about everyday questions. Will you or won’t you take their questions seriously? Will you respond with facts? Or with a story? What is your style?
- Double-check what your child wants to know. Is a question about death asking about consciousness? souls? decomposition? or how to mourn? “I think you’re asking X, did i get that right?” is a very respectful and useful way to suss out the correct meaning.
- Wrestle beforehand with walking the land between two unhelpful parenting extremes: dictating what a child may express as their own beliefs, teaching them to not inquire of their own intuition, or leaving the field completely unguided, allowing a charismatic cultist to fill the void. My path has often been “Here’s what I’ve heard, here’s what I’ve considered, this is what I’ve concluded for now.”
- I use the Six Sources as a way to explore
- acknowledging that our own sense of transcending mystery and wonder takes precedence,
- then inquire of different faith traditions, the findings of science, and admirable people for what wisdom has already been articulated,
- finally passing those other thoughts back through the filter of the first source – my own inner wisdom and connection to the mystery.
- And then I take it right back to my kids. Check their spot step on the path of spiritual development and decide is it time to model what your family believe and does (preschoolers)? Time to tell a story and ask questions so that they wrestle with and articulate their own ideas (elementary school)?
- Don’t forget – model “That’s where I am right now – I might have a better understanding later.”
That’s what UUism says – and that’s where I am right now – I might have a better understanding later.