Silent night, holy night: even those who have nothing to do with faith and church and were born before the turn of the century will be able to sing along. The question is: what are you going to do with those Christmas classics and the accompanying Christmas story? Do you still tell your children about the Messiah, the baby Jesus and the three wise men? Or is an elaborate dinner under the Christmas tree enough?
“For me, Christmas is a celebration of hope,” says theologian Nelleke Plomp. She works in the Protestant Church in the Netherlands and specializes in the theme of children, young people and the church. “Because the creator of the world became human and came to live in the midst of our literal and figurative darkness. For me, Christmas is about a God who does not shout from afar, but who recognizes what we may face in our lives.”
It’s a rather religious answer, Plomp realizes. “But it’s an answer that you, as a non-religious parent, might be able to do something about. In December, we turn on lots of lights to make it less dark. Many children, young people and adults around them feel that darkness. Sadness, psychological problems, war, financial worries affecting many families.”
“The light represents hope, just as Jesus – who is described in the Bible as a ‘light that shines in the darkness’ – represents hope. It is a beautiful story to share with your children.”
‘Christmas history is part of the general development’
For Annelies Bobeldijk, parenting expert at WOW Parenting Coaching, it’s a little different. Because she grew up in the church, she knows her classics, but she no longer believes. “Christmas is especially a nice family time for me,” she says. That doesn’t mean the Christmas story no longer plays a role in her family.
Teach your child to ask questions. May it be open to the opinions of others.
“Sometimes we go to the children’s Christmas service with my parents, or the Christmas story is told to them. It sometimes raises questions from the children. I always respond to that. The Christian faith has been part of our culture for a long time.”
“I personally think that my children know that history is part of their general development, just as you tell them other history stories. But if you don’t want to or don’t do it as a parent: that’s fine too. , they are not tested on it.”
For Plomp, it goes beyond general development. “The stories in the Bible are about universal values, such as caring for each other, sharing what you have, hope in difficult times, unconditional love. It makes a society good when you share those values with each other. Are you still able to live the common values find, now that the Christian faith smokes in the background? Like the hope that it will get better, that there is always someone who takes care of you unconditionally? That is where the Christmas story can be of value, without believing that.”
Clara, Gabriël, Balthasar, Pax: dit zijn volgens Ouders van Nu de mooiste kerstnamen.
Form your own opinion
Bobeldijk agrees. “You can use the story of Christmas to talk to your children from about nine years of age about what you think is important in life. From that age they start to see the world around them, think about what they see in Youth news or about what happens in the schoolyard.”
“Keep taking into account their level of thought in your response,” she continues. “I was riding behind a hearse recently with my four-year-old son. He asked where you actually go when you’re dead. I asked what he meant, to which he said, “I think the car goes to the cemetery . ‘ I might as well have started talking about heaven or whatever, when he just wanted to know where that car was going.”
Above all, give your child room to think for himself, also when it comes to questions about God and faith, advises Bobeldijk. “Teach your child to ask questions. To be open to other people’s opinions.”
She herself tells her children that she does not believe in the Christmas story that way, but that there are also people who do, such as grandfather and grandmother. “That way our children learn that they live in a world where different people have different opinions and that they can form their own opinion.”
You are not tied to anything
Accept the story, Plomp also challenges educators. Visit a church on Christmas Eve, take part in a Christmas walk as a family or watch the Christmas story online in LEGO.
“Dare to ask yourself and your children the question: What can this story mean for my life or my contribution to society? These are stories that have been around for so long, come back in so many places, even in Disney movies. You is not touching anything firmly, the introduction can be very non-committal.”
Jezus werd niet op Kerstavond geboren
- Dat we Kerst vieren op 25 en 26 december heeft eigenlijk niets met de geboorte van Jezus te maken. Er staat nergens in de Bijbel dat Jezus op die datum geboren werd. Wel vierden de Germanen rond die periode het midwinterfeest: het licht werd begroet en het boze verjaagd. Het vieren van Kerst als de geboortedag van Jezus ontstond in de vierde eeuw in Rome, waarschijnlijk om het Germaanse feest een religieuzere invulling te geven. In het jodendom wordt in deze periode het lichtfeest (Chanoeka) gevierd.
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