Childhood Myths

“…and that Mother Earth and Father Sun and Grandmother Universe will take care of us and watch over us…”

That was a line in the prayer my six-year-old gave for our nightly family prayer earlier this week. We go to church every week and my kids get the same standard Primary lessons, but I love how they interpret beliefs for themselves. My daughter has gone to a Waldorf class for over a year now and the teacher likes to tell stories about “Father Sun” and “Mother Earth” and the “star children” (us) who have come down to earth. Earlier this week, we had been discussing the Maya Creation myth and talked about the similarities and differences between it and the Genesis Creation myth. She told me she thinks the Maya myth is wrong and that Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother and Jesus made the earth. I smiled and said that everyone has their own story for how the world was made. While her beliefs have a Mormon base, they have a strand of her own understanding and interpretation.

Mother EarthOn the other hand, my four-year-old believes in a very different vein of Mormonism. Like he’s been taught in Primary, he believes he’ll be with Jesus in heaven after he dies, but that’s not where his vision of the after-life ends. It’s not uncommon for him to start a conversation with, “When I’m born again…” He believes in reincarnation and that after going to heaven, he’ll be reborn back to earth.

Both my daughter’s and son’s beliefs tickle me a lot. It’s amazing to see how the same teachings are interpreted through the minds of children. I know some parents would be quick to “correct” these sorts of thoughts, but I like giving them space to explore their own spiritualities. Why not believe in Grandmother Universe watching over us? Or that we’ll get another lifetime on earth to be with our loved ones? It reminds me of how I used to ask Heavenly Father to hand the prayer receiver to Heavenly Mother so I could talk with her.

The beliefs of children underscore the human desire to be connected and cared for by someone greater than us and to know that there is something for us after we die. I have one other child, who is too young to really share her beliefs (or have them?) but I look forward to learning what they are and to watch another person try to reach the divine.

Do you remember what your beliefs were when you were little? How have they shaped you? 


TopHat is putting her roots down in the Bay Area with her husband and three children. She loves the earth, yarn, and bicycling.

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7 Responses

  1. Corrina says:

    When I was little (maybe 5 or 6) I had a dream that Heavenly Father brought me a huge bouquet of flowers while I was in the sacred grove. It was a lovely, love-filled dream. I’m sure it stemmed from me hearing about JS first vision. But still to this day, I can remember that dream, especially when I doubt that my Heavenly Parents are aware of me…and it helps.

    Also, TopHat, I just wanted to shout-out to a fellow Waldorf mama! My daughters go to a Waldorf school, and I love the various myths and stories that are taught from other cultures/religions.

    • TopHat says:

      That sounds like a beautiful dream and a precious memory to savor.

      Waldorf-wise, we eclectic homeschool/unschool. A neighbor of ours is a Waldorf teacher and does a kindergarten class in her backyard (with chickens, a garden, watercolor painting, etc) once a week that I send my 6 and 4 year olds to. They love it and it’s very cute.

  2. Spunky says:

    This is delightful, TopHat! I remembering thinking that the pastel drawing of Christ with the 4 children was a photo and that in it, Christ was holing my face. Because of this, I used to think that God was my friend, and Jesus literally came to visit sometimes. I felt like I remembered it. It was a lovely feeling.

    And…I LOVE your daughter’s prayer!

  3. Jenny says:

    I love this. I especially love the idea of giving children room to explore their own ideas about spirituality instead of boxing them in with our own beliefs. I think that is the key to healthy faith as they grow up. Thank you for your beautiful words.

  4. Name * says:

    This was lovely. Thank you. I am becoming more comfortable letting my imagination run when it comes to the divine, but don’t know how to foster that in my children – maybe because I’m caught between that imagining and the idea that there is one Truth and that something awful will happen if my children don’t recognize that. 🙂 It’s a beautiful thing to put ourselves in God’s hands by not insisting we know all about what deity is or is like.

    • Melinda Buterbaugh says:

      A wonderful family friendly movie to watch that deals with our true inability to declare that we have the answers to anything is “Dean Spanley,” a charming film starring Sam Neill and Peter O’Toole. Dean Spanley is a vicar who is surprisingly open minded on doctrine regarding the afterlife. Our main characters meet him at a lecture on the transmigration of souls and, on closer acquaintance, discover that the vicar has, when under the influence of his favorite wine, Tokay, keen recollections of his previous life as a dog. The film weaves the family tragedy of the Fisk family (O’Toole and son), who are dealing with the loss of their younger son/brother in the Boer War, with Spanley’s previous incarnation as a dog. The humor is gentle and the spiritual message subtle. How do we know what we know? Do we really know it? Can we really know it? Are we meant to know it? Is it this life or the next one or the previous one that is important? Streamable on Netflix.

  5. Liz says:

    This has really inspired me to read my kids lots of different creation stories – I really think it can help kids (and adults) see God in all things. Thank you!

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