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Reading Kids Bible Stories?


kazza
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So, i have a 6 year old boy (and a 3 year old and 5mth old too!!) and we are home educating. For history we are starting on ancient history and part of that was some stories from the bible so i thought i would read him a kids bible. He likes the stories, and we have fun with them and i try and get him to think about them in a ciritical way rather than just accepting whatever it says if that makes sense? I also put it in the context of all the other gods around at the time - egyptian, greek, roman etc.

 

I kinda thought i want him exposed to them with me first so i could give him a more critical outlook rather than one of my family getting hold of him and telling it like...'wasnt abraham so fabulous that he was willing to kill his own son cos god told him too - wow just OBEY god and all will be fine - isnt god so lovely...'

 

Anyway - just before my 6 year old said to me something like i've just prayed to god that when we all wake up tommorow we will be in good moods (lol!! there's a story to go with why but its not really neccesary for me to tell it!). Anyway - that kinda made me feel a bit freaked out and i thought maybe i should stop stories about god for now!! I'm kinda torn between enjoying reading them with him with a critical eye and thinking maybe in the long run its better to have him exposed to it all in this way and then on the other hand i am worried about it 'gettting to him' and inadvertantly laying the seeds of a life of god servitude, guilt, inadequency and misery pn my 6 year old!

 

Just wondering what others here think and maybe what they would do?

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Using a "kids Bible" may put things on a child's level, but it also means that most of the stories are edited to sound nicer than they really are. On the other hand, I'm not so sure that getting into gory details is best for a 6-year-old. As such, I can sympathize with your dilemma.

 

I'm in a little predicament myself. My children are 9 and 12, but my wife is still a believer, so they get taken to church and hear Bible stories quite a bit. I did once have a heart-to-heart talk with my 9 year old daughter, and I'm sure that there will be more talks over time. At present, though, their training has been mostly one-sided, since I'm one who tries to avoid conflict.

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The main thing to keep in mind with any kid less than about 10 years old is that they have some difficulty separating fantasy from reality, which is why you don't take them to scary movies, for instance. Any story, whether from the Bible or not, has to be judged with that in mind when you present it.

 

If I still had young children I would want to present the Bible to them as literature in my own way, since they are certainly going to encounter it in their lives and need to understand it. I'd want to be steering that as their parent rather than leaving it entirely up to others to introduce. Probably one of the most effective ways to do this is to present it as archetypal mythology. Steer them to the moral of the story without taking it literally. For example the story of the fall is a myth that teaches us about the loss of innocence and the passage from childhood towards adult responsibilities -- not a literal story about how the first man and woman acquired a sinful nature to pass on to all their offspring. It's about the bittersweet, good news / bad news of growing up.

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i think it is good your exposing it to them in a educated critical manner so when their actualy encountered in real life with this stuff they wont be completly vaunrable.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I really appreciate your input here - i keep meaning to get back to say that! Your comments are helpful - thank you! We've been reading some old testement stories (abraham, moses, joseph) and my 6 year old says - i would definately believe in god and obey him, when i asked why he said that if he didnt he would get zapped and punished - then he said - its a good job god isnt real, poof!! We have some great discussions round here - lol!!!

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This has been brought up on the Atheist Experience multiple times and Jen and Russel have shared that they read the Bible stories along with other fairy tales--they even play a game with their kids of having them identify what is real and what is fantasy.

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I don't have kids yet, but I'm planning on doing something very similar. I want them to hear the stories from me first. I have a background in history and education so I plan on approaching it like lots of our other learning experiences: critically and experientially and creatively. Comparing it to other mythologies, showing how legends evolve, mimicking the style in an original story, and talking about how to tell reality from imagination are all discussions we would have.

 

This spring I was leading my after-school group in a discussion after I had just read a Grimm's fairy tale (the real, slightly gory version, which they loved). They were inner city kids from failing schools in grades 1-6, and they ABSOLUTELY understood the issues going on. I had a 6-year old give an answer better than an average college student to the question "Why do we tell fairy stories like this?" Your son will definitely get it, and he is so lucky to have a parent who is raising him to think for himself and explore intellectual realms with the joy you describe.

 

I'm curious, do you have any extended family (your parents, etc) who would ever try to encourage him to take the Bible stories literally? That is something that I will have to face and I'm worried about. As far as my parents go, they will pretty much be told that if they try to tell their grandkids Christianity is the only truth they will not be seeing their grandkids again until they are grown. OK so maybe not quite that extreme, but I think that is the one area too dangerous to be nice about. Have you encountered that from family or friends, and if so how did it go?

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OpheliaG - i love the idea of identifying fantasy and reality games - will defo use this - my son would love that!

 

Expresso - To answer your questions - yes, all my extended family on my side are born again, evangelical, fairly fundamental christians. The only ones my kids have regular contact with is my sister and her 2 kids and my mum. My sis wouldnt say anything, she's nice like that and wouldnt want to interfere, also i am always with them anyway when we are together. I'm kinda dreading the day though that our kids may want to join their cousins at some church events and things cos they get on well and i could forsee this happening - will cross that bridge when i come to it!

 

My mum is a different story. I think naturally, given any opportunity my mum would try and indoctrinate my kids - take them to sunday school etc etc. However, there are already issues around my mum from before i deconverted (3yrs ago), she has a temper and has smacked my eldest once when he was 2 - she was in my house and i was upstairs. She is the type who demands instant obedience from the kids and if they were fussing about putting clothes on she would pin them down and force clothes on ignoring the childs blood curdling screams etc - She's not a bad person, she cares, she means well and tries her best but i very rarely leave her alone with my kids - if i'm really desperate and have an appointment i may leave them with her but i will put a good film on and leave lots of snacks so they are basically just sitting there happy! Also because of the disagreements we have over the kids and the tension that bubbles beneath the surface of our relationship my mum does try and be careful about what she says and does.

 

I informed her in a short letter about my deconversion and she only spoke to me about it once (telling me she felt like she lost a daughter) - i think both of us dont want to discuss it as we know it would only end in upset and damage our already fragile relationship. So at the moment her indoctrinating them isnt an issue cos she simply isnt with them without me present and she wouldnt say anything in front of me cos she knows she would be in big trouble. I've also set up my life so i dont 'need' her to look after the kids or anything, she knows this, so knows she needs to respect my wishes as the mum to my kids - i just need to keep the power almost - as you said to be able to say - if you cant behave around my kids you dont get to see them - i hate it that its like that, i'm not a power hungry person, very the opposite in fact, but with my mum i need to be strong and set good boundaries or she will just walk all over them!

 

I still worry about the future though cos her church is very evangelical with a very lovely, genuine pastor who you cant help but like, and my sisters kids go there and i'm kinda worried about them getting invited to events and being sucked in there and obviously if i'm not with them there's my mums chance to get in there! But i will cross that bridge when i come to it. I will protect them from hell and damnation for as long as i can but in the end its up to them.

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