Friday, April 22, 2011

Explaining Good Friday to a 4-Year-Old

(Photo credit:

Today I learned just how hard it is to explain Easter -- and, by extension, Good Friday -- to a 4-year-old.

It happened when I told CC that we were going to church today to see the Stations of the Cross.

"But it's Friday," she said. Church, for CC, is strictly a Sunday thing. (Ash Wednesday kind of blew her mind, too.)

"It's Good Friday," I answered, knowing immediately what would come next.

"What's Good Friday?"

Of course she would ask that, but how was I supposed to respond? We've explained Christmas -- that's the relatively easy one -- but Easter has, so far, been about colored eggs and candy. Not Jesus being nailed to a cross and rising from the dead three days later.

I mean, what's the G-rated version of that?

Instead of concocting some cartoonish version of the Passion and Ascension -- Jesus takes a nap or a little break from life (insert air quotes here) -- I took a deep breath and told her that Jesus was killed and then rose from the dead.

I gritted my teeth and braced myself for the reaction. I even hated saying the word "killed." How would my child respond to that in addition to someone then coming back to life?

She was quiet for a few moments, and then asked:

"Why is it 'Good' then?"

I was proud of her for thinking about it -- and for asking a thoughtful question. That certainly doesn't sound like any definition of "good" she's ever heard.

In the simplest language, I tried to explain how something so sad could have a happy ending: Jesus rose from the dead, and we get to go to heaven.

How awesome is that?! (I might have gone overboard in my enthusiasm.)

She then wondered if we all rose from the dead after a few days.

"Not us, Sweetheart," I said. "Just Jesus."

There was the inevitable "Why?" and some more talk of heaven, but somehow we made it back to easier territory -- when we could start dyeing eggs.


Yvonne Condes said...

Love it. I tried explaining Good Friday and Easter to my kids. It did not go well.

Little Gray Pixel said...

That's a hard one. Good job swinging the convo back to eggs. ;-)

Lo said...

Laura - loved this post!! I went to stations in Vegas yesterday and that was hard enough to explain to adults.
Hope all is well!!

L.A. Story said...

Thanks so much for the support. This was definitely a tricky one! Hope everything turned out OK in the end, Yvonne! And Lauren, I laughed out loud at explaining Stations to adults in Vegas! :)

Unknown said...

Wow! it actually went pretty cool Laura. We definitely have to be creative explaining things to these little ones... It's fun though!


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