[ Read this in Dutch ]
Tonight before bed, both our sons (eight and six) suddenly* decided they wanted to pray**. Since we choose to allow our kids the freedom to believe what they want, I didn’t object in the least. I exercized self-restraint, and refrained from forcing my own secular world-view on them. I merely explained what kind of things people tend to say to God when they pray, like expressing gratitude for good things, apologizing for mistakes, or asking for things they want.
They both folded their hands in silent prayer, and our youngest insisted afterwards that he heard God speak back to him, maybe. There seemed to be a voice, but he wasn’t sure he really heard it, nor if it was the voice of God if he did. He spent some minutes on the topic without reaching a conclusion one way or the other.
A little later I was putting them to bed. In the youngest’s room, I wound his music box, refilled his water cup, exhanged our Favoritest Hug, and jointly worked out whose turn it was to sleep with our co-parented stuffed monkey.
Then he frowned and said,
“Daddy? I’m not hearing anything.”
“That could very well be,” I answered patiently, congratulating myself once more on my self-restraint. “Not everyone hears a response from God when they pray.”
“No daddy,” he said with exasperation in his voice, “I’m not hearing anything.” Then he stuck out his short, but steady arm, and pointed at the music box.
Sheepishly, I opened the lid to let the lullaby out.
* Though the book we’re reading from, about a boy, Christmas, the boy’s religious grandfather and atheist father, and the boy’s first prayer with gramps, may have had something to do with it.
** What that says about the success of our secular parenting style is a question I leave as a reader exercize.