Dear Tristan: About God

Hey Tristan,

I want to talk to you about God.

You have by now noticed that people say things like “Oh my God” and “Oh my gosh” and “Goddamnit” and “Jesus.”

This is part of something called religion. Even those of us who don’t practice a religion still find ourselves saying words like that because they’re common and we grew up saying them.

God is basically the idea that someone or something larger than us is in charge of stuff. That someone or something is called a deity. In some cases, people are taught that the deity made everything or judges us. There’s a whole lot more to it.

Our family doesn’t practice this. We don’t teach you that the figure named God, or any other deity, is real. Hell, there’s not even any pretense of the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus being real. I do wonder if you’re going to believe in the tooth fairy, since you’ve become rather preoccupied with your teeth falling out, but I digress.

Mommy and daddy are what is called “culturally Christian.” That means that we celebrate things like Christmas and Easter.


For many people you will meet and many people mommy and daddy love, this figure called God is very real. In the United States of America, you will see and hear about God everywhere. Therefore, you will need to think about the issue sometime in your life.

You (and/or your sister) may decide to believe in God or some other deity. You might, through your own thought and reasoning and sense, decide that someone’s bigger than us. I want you to know that whatever makes sense to you is what we will support. Do keep in mind that support doesn’t mean agreement and that mommy and daddy have spent many years thinking about this already. But we will go to churches or synagogues or whatever with you. We will show you respect, as we expect you to show respect to the people who take their God very seriously.

I don’t want you to have to feel that your own personal belief or nonbelief in a deity has any bearing on our relationship and I hope it never has a bearing on your relationships with others.

There are also religions without deities if you like the idea of religious participation; in our area, there might not be a whole lot of community, though.

You will be, and have been, taught to do right and be nice because you can and may. I see how much you care about others’ happiness and how happy you are when the people you love are also happy. That’s what motivates me to be nice (when I don’t mess up the being nice part, of course).