Last night my kids wanted to talk about death. Both of them consider themselves atheists. But my son has been hinting over the last several months that he wants to keep an open mind about “God”. [I always remind them that I do not care what they believe and that I expect them to keep changing their minds for many, many years while I just keep on loving them].
My son (10 years-old) wanted to talk about heaven. He said:
Sometimes I like to think there is a heaven because it means I don’t have to worry so much about dying, or about you and Mommy. I know I am just using heaven to help myself but I think that is OK. [*I nodded in strong agreement].
But my daughter (8 years-old) jumped right in and told us her view of death:
“Well, I believe when people die they just become someone else — they go into a new baby”.
We had never discussed reincarnation, though it wouldn’t be surprising that she has seen the idea in some Japanese anime we have watched. She then continued to describe reincarnation perfectly, though she did not know the word. And she was insistent that she did not like my son’s model but preferred her own view.
I then said,
“We all know there are no such things as monsters or the bogeyman, right? [*heads hesitantly nodded] But sometimes we feel if we keep the lights on it can keep them away. [*heads enthusiastically nod] So, true or not, if heaven and reincarnation can help you keep away fear of death, keep you happy and help you love each other more, they can be just like popping on a light to keep the bogeyman away even if you don’t believe in him. And that is OK !” [*Big smiles, nods and laughs followed!]