Avoid It or Explain It

Happy Easter to all those celebrating in some way shape or form! We had an egg hunt and lots of chocolate. Thankfully the weather is nice here today and we were able to spend some time outside.

My daughter has been super excited about Easter. They had a party at her daycare last week and she really had a good time. She said it’s now her favorite holiday.

My daughter decided that she wanted to get our family members Easter cards. We went to the store and she picked them out herself. Most were flowers or bunnies but then she picked out a card with a Noah’s Ark scene. She doesn’t know what Noah’s Ark is. She just saw cute animals and a rainbow and thought it was pretty. So we went with it. We bought the card and she gave it to my sister and her wife. 

Will there ever be a time where I need to explain this stuff to my daughter? Why do people celebrate Easter and what’s Noah’s Ark? At the moment, my husband and I avoid anything religious with our daughter, but will there come a time when we should tell her about popular bible stories or meanings of holidays — for common knowledge or maybe from a cultural or historical aspect? 

I have been so very careful with my daughter. I’ve always thought that religion preys on young people and I want my daughter to be free. She hasn’t asked any questions and I avoid bringing it up. She will be five at the end of the month and hasn’t had any exposure to religion, but I know that might change as she gets older.

Is it better if I say something first before she’s exposed to religious people or do I explain as we go — answer her questions as they come up?

Will she have any questions at all? Maybe it won’t be a big deal.

But I assume at some point I should tell her the basics. When? What should I say?


  1. lanir says

    I think the meaningful part isn’t so much being told fantastical stories as being told they are true. Religion is one of the more long-running and damaging stories because it’s had a long time for someone to push it just a little farther. Religion is mostly about choosing which awful idea to resurrect rather than inventing new bad ideas. But there are other fantasies children are told to believe as truth. The goal always seems to be the same: control.

    The rest of this is an example that I hope helps give some perspective. Basically I grew up in an extended family with several relatives who went into the US armed forces. Some of them for their entire careers. I watched and heard stories about fighting quite a bit and somehow it was always easy in these stories to tell one side from another. Friendly fire was an odd concept and it was almost always portrayed as a deliberate act of treachery.

    Then I learned a story about one side of my family, and how they were in an area that troops from their nation were advancing into during World War 2. They remembered the story because someone who stayed behind was kind to them and helped the whole family escape the area right before the troops arrived. As a child, I was confused. “Weren’t they on your side?” I asked. I don’t remember the answer but I do know it wasn’t a simple one because it made me think. They never really explained what would have happened if they couldn’t leave, just that it would have been very, very bad.

    I’ll never know those stories now. I don’t think my parents, aunts and uncles know them. And my grandparents and their siblings have all passed on. I was protected from them as a child and later when I asked about them as an adult, they were too painful for those involved to recount them to me.

    This story is not about religion but it has the same elements of a child soaking up a fantastic story. I think even getting the version of warfare that a child can understand and process without trauma helped me easily avoid the trap of blind patriotism. I had similar stories about police growing up as well. It took me a lot longer to realize that those stories were wrong, too.

    Overall I don’t think I have any idea what the answer is. It probably differs with each person and each child. I hope this helps provide some perspective though. Part of the problem I see with religion is it tends to occupy a special place. But there’s nothing different about it. It’s just stories. It’s just ugly control mechanisms. It’s just humans in a group. So I’ve found extra perspective helps me a lot and I hope it does the same for others.

  2. Bruce says

    For perspective, how do other parents answer when their kids ask them the derivation of the names Wednesday and Thursday? Do they educate their kids on proper devotion to Odin/Wotan and to Thor? Or maybe their kids never even ask.
    And for your daughter’s friends who get lectured on the “important” difference between transubatantiation and consubstantiation in the Eucharistic reminder of Easter Passover ceremonies, I bet that most kids just remember that Easter means hiding and seeking eggs and eating chocolate. That’s all it ever needs to be, unless they become a PhD historian.

  3. Bruce says

    For reference, transubstantiation is true cannibalism and vampirism with respect to eating flesh and drinking blood from Jesus. While consubstantiation is the less Catholic, more Episcopalian metaphysical version in which the same miracle happens, but not really in physical reality. Of course, a Catholic expert could explain why even though THEIR miracle is “true”, there are darn good reasons why no test of their wine and crackers can prove that it was really flesh and blood, even though they have total faith it really was, for the same reasons as why they know everything else ever.

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