My eldest child just always seemed to “get it”. My 3yo believes our priest is God. We went to a different parish this morning and my son declared that the priest wasn’t “the real God.” (loudly) I’ve explained to him several times that Father works for God but he isn’t God. The problem seems to be that I can’t show him the real God, so no matter how many times I tell him, he reverts back to believing that Father is God. Any good ideas for explaining the concept of God to really young and slightly stubborn kids?
At that age my mom would just show me an artist’s rendition of God the Father and explain that God lived in Heaven which I understood to be up in the sky.
Not sure if that’s more literal than you want, but at age 3 kids are pretty literal.
Do you have any church near you with an icon of God the Father? In this sense it’s a good thing Catholics aren’t iconoclasts…If you were in Rome I could think of one good place to take your child to…
Seems like your child will be asking all the “Why?, How?, When?, Who? etc” questions when little older.
Put some more focus on Jesus praying to God the Father and read about God as the creator from a children´s Bible. Do you have an icon or picture of the Trinity? Three-year-olds are very much “hands on” and most of them have difficulties thinking about the abstract. They connect to what they can see and touch.
I would tell the child that God is greater than anything we can imagine. Then ask him to look at the sky, see how great is it? how it seems to have no beginning and no end? God is greater than that!
One thing I’ve learned with my kids is that sometimes as a catholic its tempting during Mass to tell them," that’s Jesus." When the consecration happens. This has led to at least two of my kids thinking God was our parish priest. This is also common because kids personify spiritual thoughts. So while the Eucharist is central to our faith, a 3 year old might get confused. Adoration can help as well.
As a young child I remember my grandmother telling me that God is everywhere. That seemed to me to make God something very different than anyone else.
He knows Jesus is on the cross and in the manger. He hasn’t quite mastered the concept of the Holy Trinity yet. I guess that’s normal for his age, since grown people and theologians often don’t get it right. I’m just trying to dispel the idea that “Father Brown” is the creator of the universe. It would also be sweet if he stopped asking him for stuff every time he sees him cause it’s kind of embarrassing.
I don’t have an answer for you but I wanted to comment on how this is so typically 3year old and cute!
It’s important to know as well that it will kind of take care of itself. It doesn’t harm a 3 year old to picture priest as the person we talk about in prayers and stories. With age will come understanding
Just tell “Father Brown” that he will have to prepare a very good answers when he is asked the questions: “How and what did Jesus do to become alive again after being dead? I want to know. Relative N died and she didn’t become alive again. Why?”.
When you find the answer please let me know! One of my boys is completely confused about God.
Maybe instead of trying to explain God to a three-year-old it would be good to explain who “FatherBrown” is. He is not God. His job is called pastor and he works at the church. He does many things like seeing that people are baptized and that they hear the stories of the Bible. He leads the liturgy at Mass and he visits the sick. He prays for you and you should pray for him. Children even older than three could probably use an explanation of who their priest is (including his name) and what he does. I doubt that any of us even now can grasp the mystery of God, but the gifts of mercy and faith allow us to believe. Your child will grow and learn and believe, too.
I think my daughter was about 3 when she asked me where God was and I said “everywhere”. I also think all kids at some point think their priest is God. I would just keep telling your kiddo that the Priest is working for God, but that he is not God. It’ll eventually come together.
I remember when I was young, our parish handed out our photo album instead of just making one book. On the cover was an elderly looking man with his arms up, and lightning surrounded him. My first thought was, “That’s God”. Not a representation of Him, but the man in the picture is God. I was probably pretty upset that nobody told me where God lived or why He was on our parish photo album.
Kids sometimes just don’t “get it”, which is why we “start with milk” before going on to “solid food”.
This is the approach we’ve been using, but it doesn’t seem to be sticking.
I remember the first time one of my kids saw a bishop, and asked loudly, “Is that the Pope?”
Sometimes, it’s easier to describe God by his functions— “God created the mountains, and God created the flowers, and God created the squirrels, and God created the worms. God has a big imagination, huh!” Or, “So, if God created the sun— do you think God is bigger than the sun? That’s pretty big!” Or, “I love you soooooo much. But God loves you a zillion times more than I do, because God IS love. That’s pretty awesome, to have someone who loves you THAT MUCH.”
You might want to talk to Catholic Answers about this. They do apologetics with kids, and explaining God is an apologetics thing.
You might just want to go to the old question and answer format of the Baltimore Catechism, or to reading Bible stories adapted for kids. If your kid hears about God’s history with humanity, and the adventures of Jesus, it might help a lot on widening his/her perspective.
One good thing about the old picture Bibles for kids – you definitely didn’t get the idea that God in Genesis was your parish priest!
Really, though, I’m sure that time and experience will cure a lot of this. Little kids have a lot of short-lived strange theories, because they just don’t have enough scope of life yet.
You may need to see if you can find a second-hand copy because it’s quite old, but there’s a lovely children’s book called “My Little Golden Book About God”.
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