Q: My grandchildren are being raised Baptist Faith. When I asked what made them want to be baptized by full immersion, I fully expected them to say “because they love God”; instead the reply was a simple childish “so we don’t have to go to the H—- place." I was shocked and didn’t know how to respond in a simple explanation, without undermining their parent's faith. How can I explain one-ness and original blessing to them?
A: Thank you for your question. This is always a difficult position for grandparents. Responding with “How can you believe that?” would be a short-term approach which may weaken your relationship in the family. I️ have heard of parents telling the grandparents never to share any of their beliefs with the children. A gradual distancing begins to take place, even to the point of little or no meaningful contact
There is also a long-term approach which allows a lifetime to have an impact.
Here is a suggestion. If you want to say something, have a conversation with the parents first and share with them the sense of oneness and the original blessing that has now touched your life. Remember that our faith journeys are evolving, ever new and the Holy Spirit is ever present.
As for the children, meet these little ones where they are and share that you, too, would not want to go to hell. Tell them about your baptism, show them some pictures of the event and what baptism means to you -- how it reminded you that God loves you and that you are a child of God, a member of Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit. Help them experience the presence of God all around them. Sit with them in silence and listen to the beating of one’s heart, knowing that each beat is Jesus whispering “I love you.”
This children’s book on Centering Prayer may assist your being with them.
Whatever you do, do it ever so gently.
Enjoy the challenge of grand-parenting, - Fr Carl