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Doesn’t God Listen to Little Children?

April 2, 2012

Sophie always has her share of curious questions. And being in a Jewish preschool, she has really taken on a new understanding of Judaism and God. She is starting to understand the concept of God and how we pray and ask for guidance. While I can typically handle most of Sophie’s religious and philosophical questions, one recently caught me off guard.

I have written on this blog about Bryan and my decision to only have one child. I won’t go into details in this post; you can read about the reasoning here and here. But needless to say, it’s a decision we have been  comfortable with from the beginning. Sophie has asked from time to time why she doesn’t have a brother or sister (mainly when her friends became big brothers and sisters). And we have told her that we like our family the way it is, with mommy, daddy and Sophie (and two dogs and two cats). This seemed to placate her and she the conversation would end. … That is, until recently.

Sophie and I were having some mommy-daughter time together on the couch recently, , when she said to me, “Mommy I asked God for a brother or sister. When is a little sister or brother coming?” My mouth went dry as I began wondering how in the heck I would answer this one. And then came the clincher.

“Doesn’t God listen to little children?” Sophie asked.

My immediate thought was to say right back to her, It’s not God you need to talk to about this issue … it’s mom and dad. But of course, I didn’t say that. I was already in deep with this one. I was not about to have that conversation as well.

I was completely caught off guard. Not only by Sophie asking about a sibling. But now she has taken it to a new level and related to her understandings of God and prayers. It’s a hard thing to figure out. She’s a bit young to understand all the nuances of our decision. Yet I don’t want to imply that God is not listening to her either.

I ended up reassuring her that, of course, God listens to little children. I continued to say that even though he listens, sometimes he may not respond or answer in a way she understands. Sometimes he needs to think things over a bit. But for now, a brother or sister is probably not in God’s plans.

My answer seemed to satisfy Sophie’s curiosity and she quickly moved on, asking to watch Nick Jr. I don’t know if she’s still asking God for a sibling. But she also has not brought up the issue since that day. I found it amazing that at such a young age, she seems to grasp on a basic level the idea behind prayers.

I couldn’t help but feel sad when Sophie asked me that question. Not sad because of our decision not have more children. But sad because – at 4-years-old – she was already questioning whether God was listening to her.  The disappointment in her voice broke my heart. I realized that as much as possible, I need to be honest with Sophie while still encouraging her faith and curiosity. Needless to say, this was one of those moments that had quite an impact on me as a mother, and really forced me to stop and think about parenting in a whole new light.

38 Comments leave one →
  1. April 2, 2012 3:07 am

    Great post, Leah. Wow. What comes from the mouths of babes. Happy Passover & Easter!

  2. April 2, 2012 3:58 am

    You are a wonderful mother and Sophie is lucky to have you! Her question – and your thoughtful pondering on it – left me in tears. Just beautiful Leah!
    MJ

    • April 3, 2012 11:47 pm

      Wow, thank you so much for your nice words! I’m truly touched.

  3. April 2, 2012 4:17 am

    Aww thanks for sharing~ my kids have amazed me with their thought processes from the time they were little on! Nowadays, it’s more that I’m struck by their wisdom here & there. (you know, cause they’re teenagers & know everything! 🙂 Being a mom is THE BEST!

    • April 3, 2012 11:48 pm

      Thanks for your nice words. I can imagine it only gets more rewarding as time goes on. I bet your kids have great things to say!

  4. April 2, 2012 5:26 am

    I really like what you said about being honest with Sophie whilst encouraging her faith and curiosity at the same time. As always, you do an awesome job at parenting, and despite the curved ball thrown at you, managed to catch it well!

    • April 3, 2012 11:48 pm

      Thanks, Elizabeth. This one was certainly a curved ball all right. I appreciate your words!

  5. April 2, 2012 6:57 am

    I think your answer was perfect, Leah. Sophie will keep asking questions like that as she gets older and for every age and stage you’ll be answer differently depending on “where she’s at” developmentally/emotionally. My kids are now 8 and 11 (the 11 y/o, the girl, asks many more questions!) Sophie is lucky to have such a thoughtful, loving mom!

    • April 3, 2012 11:49 pm

      Thank you, Lisa. That means a lot coming from you. And I really like your point that the answers will vary depending on her age and developmental stage. Thanks!

  6. April 2, 2012 7:21 am

    Leah you have to be on your toes all the time, Sophie is very smart and will be asking you difficult questions for the next few years, just be ready to have answers for her. It’s a joy being a parent – kids are amazing and their questions always surprised me.

    • April 3, 2012 11:50 pm

      Thanks, Ariana. As much as her question was a curved ball, it was interesting to hear her say such mature things!

  7. April 2, 2012 7:22 am

    Thanks for the great post Leah. I really enjoyed going back and reading your posts about having one child. JB and I, though still two months away from being married, have had very similar conversations about the number of children we want and have been leaning toward only one (and of course if we are blessed to even have that happen). It’s really helpful to read your posts about your decision-making process. It’s very validating for many things I have thought about as well. So thank you for sharing!

    • April 3, 2012 11:51 pm

      Only two more months?! So exciting! I’m really glad my posts helped you. It’s tough to talk about sometimes because definitely have their opinions. But I really believe in our decisions and I want others to feel safe feeling the same way. I know you’ll be a wonderful mom, whether you have one or 10 kids!

  8. April 2, 2012 7:59 am

    Leah, I think you answered Sophie’s question perfectly. She is lucky to have a mom who puts such great care and thought into answering questions, which in turn will mold her into a thoughtful, caring person. Good job!

    • April 3, 2012 11:51 pm

      Thanks, Susan. I appreciate your kinds words!

  9. April 2, 2012 8:17 am

    I wonder how I’ll answer questions like this when Baguette starts to ask them. I really like your answer. But I know this question will break my heart. Because we certainly never meant for her to be an only child. That’s just how it seems to be working out.

    • April 3, 2012 11:52 pm

      That is so true — that the question itself breaks your heart! Great way of putting it. And you are right. You never know what the plans are for more kids or not. Eventually they come to understand (I think). Thanks for the comment!

  10. April 2, 2012 8:57 am

    So what’s wrong with just having one child and being happy with that decision?

    NOTHING. And it’s nobody’s business but you and your husband’s.

    Sophie has a beautiful life. She is loved. She might not think a sib was all it was cracked up to be if one arrived. There are no wrong answers. Just different scenarios, all with pros and cons.

    (I just read the two links you posted above, and I am shaking my head at the mother who sends her kid out of the house for two hours a day to knock on someone’s door. If some kid’s mother sent him knocking on my door for free child care for two hours every day, I’d be put out. Who knew you could unload your kids like that? Think of all the writing I’d get done)! LOL

    • April 3, 2012 11:53 pm

      Loved your comments, Michelle! And thanks for the great feedback. Isn’t it interesting how it’s such a personal decision but people think they are entitled to give you contrary feedback?! Thanks for your understanding and support!

  11. April 2, 2012 4:26 pm

    You are a wonderful mother to Sophie, Leah. She is lucky and blessed to have you. My children are grown, but I remember these kinds of questions becoming most difficult during the teens. I believe keeping answers honest for the child’s age (which you did so well) creates the best trust, and later that will really be important.
    Thanks for sharing this beautiful moment. And good job handling the question.

    • April 3, 2012 11:54 pm

      Thanks, Cynthia. I appreciate your nice words. I can’t imagine what the questions will be like during her teen years! I do think the age-appropriate answers are the best way to go. Hopefully I can keep up my quick thinking!

  12. jolinapetersheim permalink
    April 2, 2012 4:31 pm

    We’ve all posed those dry-mouthed questions at our parents, which I think you answered beautifully. Can’t wait for Adelaide to bring up the birds and the bees; I’ll just send her to her father!

    • April 3, 2012 11:55 pm

      That’s the best thing I’ve heard yet, Jolina! Send her to her father for the answer!

  13. April 2, 2012 6:53 pm

    Great post. I think you did a fine job answering Sophie’s question. Way to go Mom! 🙂

    • April 3, 2012 11:55 pm

      Thanks, E.C. I appreciate your support and nice words!

  14. April 2, 2012 7:53 pm

    Leah–This is a powerful, heartfelt post. Thank you for sharing! Lesley

    • April 3, 2012 11:56 pm

      Thank you so much for your comment, Lesley. It means a lot to me. It also goes to show you what an amazing preschool it is — that the core of what she’s learning has her thinking so deeply!

  15. April 3, 2012 4:30 am

    Wow. Leah….what a post. Sophie is certainly growing. I’ve told our kids that God listens to EVERY prayer – but sometimes, for whatever reason, the answer is no. I think you handled that beautifully.

    • April 3, 2012 11:57 pm

      Thanks, Ann. I really like what you said about how God listens but sometimes the answer is no. I think I may use that next time she brings up this topic or something similar. Of course then I’ll get the, why did he say no, question. But we can all honestly answer that we never know why.

  16. April 3, 2012 7:57 am

    I love your thoughtfulness when it comes to her questions (and her education). It is so hard to run up against those times when we can’t give our children what they really want, but I love the answer you gave her. Especially because that’s the same answer a lot of adults need to hear.

    • April 3, 2012 11:57 pm

      Thanks, Kario! I appreciate your words so much. It is interesting that adults and children sometimes need the same comments.

  17. April 3, 2012 8:17 am

    My kid once asked me: if my baseball team is praying to win, and the other team in praying to win…how does God choose who will win? Does he take favorites, or did one team just not pray hard enough.
    Yes, they do ask the difficult questions.

    • April 3, 2012 11:58 pm

      What great questions from your kid! Love them. What did you answer back?

      • April 4, 2012 10:20 pm

        I told him everybody wants something, but God knows a persons heart and what they “need”, and also, that some times things just come down to which team played better. He squished his face, but dropped the subject

  18. April 5, 2012 2:26 pm

    wow. That is a tough question. Children are so smart. I agree with what New Author Publishing said to her child.

  19. April 9, 2012 4:13 pm

    Leah, I think you handled the situation outstandingly well! You were honest and still encouraged Sophie’s faith. I think a lot of children wish for a sibling at one point or another. My daughter is six years older than my son and they were always wishing for a sibling of the same gender. The Son couldn’t understand why he couldn’t have a brother to play Pokemon with! 🙂

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