Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Damn Devil

I am not a big talker of religion. I have always been a Christian. Over the years I have become a more Liberal Christian than most of the ones that I grew up around. I believe in Jesus, but I also believe that you don't have to believe in Jesus to go to Heaven. Around these parts, that is just flat out radical thinking. I almost hesitated to write it just now. That is how radical some people around here would consider that statement.

As a result of that, I don't do a lot of talking about religion.

Until now...

My son has become obsessed with talk of God and the devil. It isn't just soft questions anymore either, like "Where is God?" It has become a flat out Worry Fest.

He has been having lots of bad dreams. Dreams that wake him up crying and fleeing to my bed in the middle of the night. When I asked him why he was having these dreams, he told me that God had left his heart and the devil had gotten in. !!! It still haven't convinced him that the devil IS NOT in his precious heart.

Of course I told him that God would never leave his heart and that he did not even need to worry about the devil. But how can you tell a 5 year old worrier that the things that wake him up screaming at night are not to be worried about? And how in the world can you explain the complexities of God and the devil and religion to a kid who has an imaginary friend? And why should I have to? Where is he getting this?

He goes to a Baptist Preschool. I am not a Baptist, but I figured it was a pretty safe choice. I figured that he would be taught some Bible stories and songs that I think all children need to know. I did not think that he would be filled with Earth shaking fear of the devil..Surly they aren't telling him this stuff...Do you think they are? I don't know. I just can't imagine where else he would get it.

These are some of the things that I have been hearing from him almost daily:
  • Where is the devil?
  • Where does the devil live?
  • What if God isn't big enough to keep the devil out of my heart?
  • Do people burn in fire in hell?
  • Am I going to go to hell and burn in fire if I am dead?

Why does my five year old have to worry about these things? Do you think he heard this stuff at PRESCHOOL? I have to ask them. But when I do, what if they say yes and act like it isn't even an issue? I may have to come unglued. Would a Baptist preschool really want to do this to a baby? And if not, where else could this be coming from?

Suggestions, thoughts, solutions, rants, or condemnation welcome. I hope you have a great weekend.

Footnote:

I do want my children to learn about Jesus and Christianity. I realize that the devil is a part of that. I just think five is WAY too early to be worrying about hell. I believe that he should be learning about God's love and the good things that Jesus did. I would like for him to learn about Jesus while learning to think for himself. Is that too much to ask?This whole post fills me with worry. Maybe this is why I don't talk about religion?

18 comments:

AndreAnna said...

Kids get stuff from somwhere, and if you're not teaching it to him, then who?

From your details that he has an imaginary friend, I would suffice to say he has an active imagination, so maybe it's a combination of the two.

Maybe at his preschool, one of the teachers is teaching him about religion and says "We have to love God enough to fill our hearts and kepe the Devil out." and being such an imginative kid, he just runs with it.

Having such a vivid imagination is a gift AND a curse I think. Just ask my husband, who at 31 tells wonderful stories of flight and fancy, but STILL wakes up with nightmares about zombies.

I am no a religious person at all, so I can't comment on that subject, but if you feel overall pretty comfortable with his teachers and don't think they would be intentionally scaring children, maybe you should talk to one of them about what is happening at home and maybe they can take a little "extra" time to help him understand the things they teach better.

Was my long-ass rant any help? LOL

Bilbo said...

I think Andreanna is at least partly right. Since Super Z has an active imagination, he's probably going to "internalize" much of what he hears at his preschool...and if they are teaching the children a fire-and-brimstone version of the bible (which I wouldn't doubt in a Baptist environment), he may be getting an unreasoning fear of God, the Devil, and his relationship with both. I suggest you try to drop by his preschool at some point and observe his lessons, or at least ask the teachers what type of religious lessons are presented to the children. You need to find out whether the type of instruction Super Z is receiving is okay for him and his personality, and is in line with your own religious beliefs. Good luck!

Jerseygirl89 said...

Someone recently told me (or maybe I read it, it's rather fortunate it that I remember the gist at all) about their child's (former) church preschool and how all the kids are told that they are sinners. Repeatedly. I think you should ask to see their religion curriculum and to sit in on a class. Because all this devil stuff is not appropriate for four year olds.

lisa's chaos said...

Poor kid. I'm sure it is his imagination running away. I spent several years teaching the 1st grade bible school class. And always helped out with VBS and although Baptists can sure bang a pulpit, the kids were treated to much calmer teachings. :)

I imagine you get so many questionf from him because he's such a bright kid. He questions lots of things because his smart little brain fill-ins blanks to some of the stuff he doesn't know or wants to know. He's trying to figure it out and maybe he thinks if he doesn't feel God in his heart that the devil must be there, deductive reasoning.

lisa's chaos said...

Poor kid. I'm sure it is his imagination running away. I spent several years teaching the 1st grade bible school class. And always helped out with VBS and although Baptists can sure bang a pulpit, the kids were treated to much calmer teachings. :)

I imagine you get so many questionf from him because he's such a bright kid. He questions lots of things because his smart little brain fill-ins blanks to some of the stuff he doesn't know or wants to know. He's trying to figure it out and maybe he thinks if he doesn't feel God in his heart that the devil must be there, deductive reasoning.

Kathryn said...

Wow. That is heavy stuff for a 5 year old. I thought we Catholics were tough about the devil but I'm pretty sure they haven't talked about that yet at my son's preschool. Thank goodness!
I'm guessing he got it at school since you obviously aren't the one talking about it. I have a few Baptist friends and they all seem to do the fire and brimstone thing pretty strongly, so maybe it is the school. Like you said, ask the teacher.
Poor kid. How scary. Yes, I agree with you, the devil is part of learning about God and Jesus, but, like you said, 5 is way too young.

Amanda said...

Oh dear! Poor Super Z and poor you. I can see why you'd be so worried. If it were me, I'd go find out if the pre-school is teaching this and if they are, I wouldn't hesitate in changing schools. No child needs to know that much about the devil. I'm not even sure I knew about the devil at that age.

I recently bought a Children's Bible that had very 'happy' and loving pictures of Jesus and the parables. Maybe you can use something similar to help put some more positive pictures back into poor Super Z's little head.

Wolfie said...

Dun think its the school..(somehow I dun think tat Baptist school teaches kids abt the devil..at least not in my area)..did ur kid watch any horror shows recently?
I believe in teaching kids abt God even when they are young..I dun know abt u..but I try to pray every nite with my girl..for her to have wisdom & protection & so on..(maybe u can try pray tat these dreams will go away)

AnGlOpHiLe FoOtBaLl FaNaTiC said...

My best friend is Southern Baptist, and that sounds very similar to what they teach. I think Super Z being intelligent and very good at listening may have a big part in this. There was probably a story about Jesus and being tempted by the devil and he just ran with it. I would certainly speak to the school about how much religion is playing at part in the education. Good luck.

Momo Fali said...

Yikes! I would just tell him that if he's good and kind, that he won't ever have anything to worry about. And, that God loves you...even if you screw up!

Bren said...

Yep, five years old is too young to be that worried about the devil/hell. I'd definitely talk to the school but my guess is the same as everyone elses. Whatever he heard has probably been exaggerated in his imagination.

Still...poor Super Z! Be sure to keep us updated on how you handle it and how he's doing with it.

My oldest was having bad dreams recently and was afraid to got to bed at night. We ended up getting her a little ceramic angel to sit on her nightstand and "watch over" her. Problem solved. Maybe something like that would put Super Z's mind at rest.

Dana said...

My kids went to a Christian school that backed by the Southern Baptist church for several years and the devil was nowhere in the cirriculum. They taught only of the love of Jesus. Now, I wouldn't put it past another child in Super Z's class to pick up on something at home and then tell him about it. I just really don't think that they would be teaching that at that young of an age but I would ask the teacher about where he might have heard it.

JUST A MOM said...

OH MY DEAR I am so there with you , hey my cousin goes to an ENCLUSION church it sounds pretty cool to me ,,, BUT MY personal thougths abotu who goes to heaven is taht needle everyone is supose to go through youknw it is in the scripture well I believe that it is wwwwwwwaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy wider then we coudl htink ok now on with that baby's problem YES they probley are telling him about he devil sadly I was sending my babies to a baptist church pre K and those were the question I got and the nightmares I went in and told them that these stories were scaring the crap out of my kid and I didn't think it was right to tell them at such a young age about it,,,, I am not sure if they changed Because I took my daughter to a different school/church a nazerine one I liked them... good luck and no matter what you HAVE to stick to your gutt feelings and that baby.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

I think your son has got to the stage where he is thinking more for himself and is starting to ask a lot of questions.

Nap Warden said...

Well, I grew up Catholic. They hit us with that stuff very young. Now that I have little ones, I am not sure what I am going to do, or how I want to expose them to religion. I'd like a little less than what I had. Curious to hear how you handle it...

Sleeping Beauty said...

Wow. I would be very upset if my child came home and asked me those questions, I do not even know how I would of reacted. I have not settled on any religion, although, I am still holding on to the faith of God. My great grandparents were baptists though and woowee, they used to scare the crap out of me with the devil talk.

Pamela said...

I remember hearing that when I was a kid and being worried, too.
He is much to young to be fretting over such things.

I hope you find "authority" in yourself to assure him that his heart is safe.

jewel531 said...

This sounds so familiar. Just this weekend my son, who is also 5, came home from pre-school, and told me and his step-father that his teacher told him his step-father was going with Satan for not believing in God. My son's father is Baptist, I follow more of a Wiccan path, and my husband (his step-father) is basically an atheist. I grew up Baptist, and didn't mind him going to a religion pre-k, it seemed to be a good school, and we knew some of the teachers. Boy I didn't realize that he would come home and tell us something like this, it was quite upsetting, and still is. Thanks for posting this, at least I know that I am not alone in trying to figure out a way to deal with these kinds of problems. I just wish his Father felt as strongly as I do about this and wanted to help come up with a solution as much as I do.