Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Natural Curiosity

It's time to link up to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday! We're already onto the second half of the alphabet: the letter "N." N is for natural curiosity.

My daughter had always been curious. She's always wanted to know everything about everything. This natural curiosity is what fueled her to learn to read at age 4, and to almost immediately dive into books and magazines that teach her about the world.

A dear friend of mine has two children that are much older than my daughter. They're also quite brilliant. When they're done with their books, my friend loves to unload them on us. My daughter LOVES receiving these books! She's read about ancient Egypt, different countries and cultures, and different religions around the world.

Now, to give you a little background. We're Jewish, but we're not observant. We don't go to temple or observe the holidays. We try to bring some spirituality into the home by praying every night at my daughter's bedtime. This consists of us taking turns to thank God for a few things that happened during the day. It's a nice way to end the day and show appreciation.

My daughter's knowledge about Judaism, however, is pretty minimal or so I thought. The other day as I was driving my daughter home from school, she asked me when we were going to our next Bah or Bar Mitzvah. She hadn't been to one in a couple of years, and I was surprised that she knew what one was. I told her we didn't have any coming up, and I asked her why she was interested. She responded that she wanted to see what one was like before she had hers.

My husband and I weren't planning for our daughter to have a Bah Mitzvah. I told my daughter that it requires attending Hebrew school for 2 days each week and attending services at temple regularly. She said that she knew this and was interested in doing it.

I asked her how she knew about all this, and she answered that she read it in her World Religions book. She said she spent the most time reading about Judaism since it's her religion.

I must admit that I never saw this coming. My husband and I have to have a serious talk about how to proceed. Do we have our daughter put a lot of time (and money) learning to read Hebrew and learning about her religion and culture or do we try and find other ways to occupy her time?

Books are a wonderful thing. But a little bit of knowledge can be dangerous!


  1. You have lots of options here. You don't have to join a conservative or even a reform synagogue and go to Hebrew school two days each week for the next 4-5 years. There are communities (kehillahs or Havurot) which are like synagogues w/o walls. For very little money they have Hebrew school one day a week and have services usually once a month or so. Bat/Bar Mitzvah students usually study with a tutor longer than a traditional religious school (usually 1 year instead of 6 months) and the child isn't going to do as much as a child getting a more traditional religious education. However someone as bright as your daughter could pick things up pretty quickly. This year I am employed by a Kehillah (Shoreshim). Our school meets for 2 hours every week. The group is very nice and people come from all kinds of Jewish and even non Jewish backgrounds.It is worthwhile to at least investigate!

  2. I don't see the harm of letting your daughter explore her heritage and religion when she is of age and if she is still interested, Cheryl. At least let her try to see if she can handle all the extra work and commitment.

  3. Taking a one step at a time for your daughter to see what is involved with her heritage will either encourage her to continue or accept shat she knows at a certain point.

  4. I seems to me this a good problem to have. It also reminded me of a quote I found recently when trying to guide my 16yr old. It helped me and I might you.

    I have found the best way to give advice to your children
    is to find out what they want and then advise them to do

    - Harry S. Truman

  5. We have struggled with religion. Mostly, K has become a die-hard, VOCAL, atheist. We took a wrong turn somewhere in our non-religious teachings, and she, knowing we don't exactly believe in a higher power, has now taken to the streets (ie classroom) to tell her peers there is no God, and she also leaves out "under God" when they say the pledge. Of course, every other kid is apparently uber religious and fires back that god is, in fact, real. Then she gets all upset b/c HE.IS.NOT. We went through a really hard time with it, I blogged about it, probably offended all my readers, and never spoke of it again...ha. I have had to drill it into her that we don't discuss god or religion. To her, it's black and white, so it's been hard. I am not sure what I would do if she clasped on to a religion, though. I def wouldn't spend $$$. It's one thing to drop your kid off at Sunday school a couple times, but to invest so much time and money...hmmm, not sure I would do that...which probably makes me a bad parent, but so be it.

  6. If you can afford the Hebrew school and she wants to go you should support her in that. It's her decision what to believe or not believe. Your job is to help her explore her interests.

    When I was her age I had a best friend who was Catholic and I went to good news club with her - I turned out fine. Treat this as you would any of her other interests. The stuff she learns isn't going to hurt her. It's just knowledge. Just choose a school that isn't radicalized. Some children are just really curious about matters regarding religion. My son is too. He hasn't met a religious festival he hasn't liked to be honest.

    Also - I have a friend writing a book called, "Relax, it's just God" you might want to check out: It's for the non-religious navigating the god question with their kids. But it is applicable to any parent really.

  7. Interesting. I was raised in a mostly non-observing Jewish family also...and had lots of curiosity about other people's religions. Tough call for you. I think it's important for her to learn about her own heritage and about other religions so she can make choices. Maybe you can find a good book that explains more about what is involved without the expense and time commitment of actually going through it. Then if, upon learning more about what it really means (something more than a party) she's still convinced that this is something she wants, well...I guess you cross that bridge when/if you get to it...

    Judging by some of your earlier posts, I'm guessing you'll figure this out. You strike me as being a very thoughtful parent who's taught her daughter well!

  8. I believe that is the way children should explore religion on their own terms and not because their parents force it on them. She's a very astute young lady, you have done a good job!!!

  9. How cool. Tommy has started asking more questions about God. We're not religious but I'm totally open to him learning about what he wants and making his own decisions. He's really into wanting to know what Heaven is like and if candy is there.

  10. I'm impressed with her desire to know more about her heritage. She is quite a girl!


  11. I am not the person to be giving you advice about your religion, however I was in a similar situation with my daughter. I wanted her to grow up and decide what religion she believed in instead of telling her she believed the same way I did.

    It all worked out to the good in my family and I wish you the best in yours.~Ames

  12. Wow..that's amazing that your daughter wanted to know more, and ready to make the commitment.

    I have to pull my hair out with my children when it comes to religion!

  13. Natural curiosity can be dangerous...

    Isn't there a saying about Curiosity killing the cat or something like that...

    It is really Neat though that your daughter wanted to learn more about your religion...

    Great post for the letter "N"!

    Thanks for linking.