November 13, 2019

God-Talk with My Toddler

Photo by Wikipedia

As is typical for an East Coast summer afternoon, last week me and my two little boys were stuck inside waiting for a thunderstorm to pass so we could go out on our stroller walk. As we were looking out the window tracing rain drops, my two and a half year old son turned to me and out of the blue asked, “Mommy, who makes it rain?”

I thought for a moment about explaining how clouds and water cycles and atmospheric pressure swirl around us everyday but he used the word “who” in his question so I defaulted to a quick one word answer, “God.” Surprisingly, that was the end of the discussion, or so I thought.

The rain soon cleared and we started off on our usual path around the neighborhood but my mind was totally preoccupied with this BIG little word I just used – God. Had I said the wrong thing? Was it too soon (or maybe too late?) to talk about God to a two year old? I hadn’t heard the word used with any real meaning at his Jewish preschool and I hadn’t found myself bringing it up on my own. 

We say Shabbat prayers together as a family and sing lots of Jewish songs but somehow (I’m guessing because they’re mostly in Hebrew so a lot of the language and meaning just brushes by) we haven’t really talked about God before.

I was raised with a strong belief in a higher power. I remember having lots of discussions in day school about God’s role in the Torah and in our everyday world. When I experienced a pregnancy loss five years ago I turned to Harold Kushner’s “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” and came to a totally new understanding of a concept of God I could appreciate in a broken world. So I’m feeling pretty good about God these days, but teaching my kid about God…that seems exceptionally monumental a task.

I decided for the moment I would treat the word God the way I do all new things around my toddler, I’d test the water, see how it went and reassess as time went by. I decided I didn’t have to decide right then and there what our family God policy was going to be and how we would all believe in Him right now. A few moments later as we made our way home on our walk my son pipes up from what I thought was a nap in his stroller to ask me “Is God Moana’s Mommy?” to which I simply answered: “Yup.”

Marion Haberman is a writer and content creator for her YouTube/MyJewishMommyLife channel and Instagram @MyJewishMommyLife page where she shares her experience living a meaning-FULL Jewish family life. Haberman is currently writing a book on Judaism and pregnancy titled ‘Expecting Jewish!’ to be released Winter ’19. She is also a professional social media consultant and web and television writer for Discovery Channel, NOAA and NatGeo and has an MBA from Georgetown University.