Sunday, May 28, 2006

A Child's Concept of God: Relationships

Children's Spirituality Chpt 13 "A Child's Concept of God" by Joyce E. Bellous , Simone A. de Roos (author of Educating Faith: An Approach to Christian Formation), and William Summey - an international team of authors.

Research shows that a child's self-concept is distinctly tied to a child's God-concept. As it turns out self-esteem, self-concept, God-concept and concepts that children have of others are all interrelated. "Parents, teachers, significant others, as well as salient things (e.g., church buildings, television programs) are influential in constructing a child's expectation that God is dependable, good and kind (or the opposite...) whether or not the child has formal religious training."(p. 204)]

However incomplete, language is an important element for people searching for evidence of faith in children. It's interesting that with or without religious training, children do, in fact, find language to articulate what we would consider faith. Apparently when they need the words, they will find the words.

Relationships are important to children. God made us that way. Faith in God is relational. He walked with Adam in the garden. He came to find us. Maybe this relational side of God makes it easier for kids to find the words they need?

1) Our own perception of God, 2) how we as parents (and other adults) relate to our children, 3) how we perceive other people in our attitude and behaviour all affect how children see God and how they see themselves but flip that.

Especially when they're little, children and how they perceive life and God and people also give us clues about ourselves and about God - not just what we're imparting to them but when they smile at you and touch you and love you I think Jesus is loving you. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them. We can give to one another, receive from one another, and grow in our knowledge of God together.


  1. Dear Mrs. Hillenbrand,
    My name is Fransisca, I'm an undergraduate psychology student from Indonesia and I'm conducting a research about God concept in physically abused children. I am very interested in your writing in this blog. May I ask your help for literature about God concept? I will be really thankful too if you could give me suggestion about my research. You could do so by mailing me at I'm looking forward four your response. Thank you.


  2. For anyone exploring this you can google "children's spirituality" and look for specifically "Christian" sites. Then prayerfully read your heart out. There's LOTS to read, even on line. Follow the trails. Investigate the researchers, read and weigh what they're writing and why they're writing it. Most important, people, search the scriptures. Tap into your own experiences with children and remember being a child.

    Here's a few web places to start. I've not sifted them with a fine toothed comb. I'm not telling you that they're good or bad. I've only searched a couple of these. It's just a place to start. Mine the gold, sift through the dross, and see what you can find: