Thursday, June 27, 2013

Conversation with a 7-year old boy

My son goes to the Jewish Community Center (JCC) for summer camp and after-school programs. The JCC enriches him with the traditions and religious beliefs of the Jews (among many other non-religious things). I think it's important for him to know where part of his family came from. So I'm really happy that he is learning so much about the culture and beliefs of the Jews, my family's heritage. But I also think it's extremely important to question everything. And well, Mathew surely does.

So today, after I picked him up from the JCC, we had another one of those conversations that I want to document for the books.

He asks me: "Why do Jewish and Christian people have so many rules? Why can't they be free, not trapped in a cage or stuck by rules. It's not fair." Verbatim.

I smile, and explain to him that each person has a choice. And by choosing a certain religion and its rules, they are free because they have made a choice. I gave him the example of my sister-in-law, his aunt and explained her choices were of her own free will. She is not trapped in a cage in her view. Have you thought of it that way? Mathew said no.

I continued to elaborate to him that you yourself have made a choice by thinking these rules trap you in a cage and therefore you are free for making that choice.

When I asked him why does he feel that way about the rules. He compared the religion rules to being like slaves in a cage. He believes the rules are so conforming that they make him feel trapped, like a slave. Wow! I am not making this up people.

Of course, being the balanced, non-persuasive parent (that I try really hard to be): I told him he had the right to feel that way, but he should ALWAYS respect what other people believe even if you don't agree. Everyone has the right to their own opinion, beliefs, and feelings. I emphasized that you cannot take these things away from people, nor can anyone take them away from you.

What I wanted to say: I agree with your sentiments 100%.

I'm so proud of my son for thinking on his own, for engaging in these thoughts and ideas and nurturing them into his own beliefs (not pressured or coerced by anyone, including me).

Again, my son continues to amaze me!

To close:
I understand this blog might get some people upset, especially some family members. I urge those people who get upset or offended by this to remember the lesson I tried to teach my 7-year old son today: we each have the right to our opinions, feelings, and thoughts, even if they don't coincide with yours. You are free to share your thoughts, but I will state upfront I do not welcome rude or condescending comments. Thank you for understanding that I am trying to raise my son to think for himself and to choose for himself. I'd like to think I'm on the right track!

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