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Curiosity About Heaven


My 8-year-old son and I have a great relationship. Although we’ve been through a lot, he is happy, obedient, confident and funny. He’s a great kid. We are spiritual and pray a lot, go to church and talk about God. Lately, he’s asked me a lot about free will and Heaven. He asked if people have a choice to go to heaven “early.” When prompted, he says he would like to go to Heaven to see Jesus early because then he couldn’t hurt anymore.

I was quite taken back by this, and we had a long conversation. He said “hurt” because he feels bad and doesn’t know why. We talk regularly about what he wants to be when he grows up, how proud I am of him, how much I love him, about life and its gift, etc. Is this normal conversation for his age? Is it just curiosity about Heaven and God, or is this more serious? He doesn’t display signs of depression; he seems very happy, likes school, has lots of friends, but I’d like to know how I can help him.

I don’t date a lot, but I was in a relationship for about a year with someone. He was close to my son, and now we have split up. Could my son possibly be coping with that, too?



Thanks for reaching out to us. It sounds like you have a wonderful relationship with your son. It’s great that the two of you have a close bond and can talk about anything. However, no matter the openness, there’s always going to be that one topic or conversation that stumps you. Based on the information you’ve provided, it seems that your son has developed some curiosities ​about things that, although completely normal, should be addressed.

Curiosity about God, heaven, religion and spirituality are normal for a child his age. Much of what kids understand about spirituality at his age is mysterious and naturally invites them to ask questions. Help your son explore what he means by “feeling bad.” When children hear biblical stories and learn about the teachings of Jesus, it often confuses them even though it was never meant to. Most children have trouble understanding how someone who was kind and loving to some many people ends up dying to save them. Until they fully understand the story of Jesus’ life and death, many children feel a sense of sadness and guilt but often can’t explain it.

You stated that you attend church and that you and your son pray together, but you might also want to consider Sunday school or bible classes. A class like this would tell this story in a light-hearted but direct way so that your son would be able to make sense of his feelings. If your church does not have one, you could also try setting up a meeting to talk with your pastor or priest, and have him talk with you and your son in a way that makes things clearer. With a little more time and attention given to the subject, your son will come away with a better sense of understanding.

Regarding your past relationship, it is always possible that your son has his own feelings about it ending. However, if he hasn’t mentioned anything about it and seems fine, then there is probably nothing to worry about. You are right to be mindful of his feelings because he was just as much a part of the relationship as you were. If you are concerned that he may be feeling something but not telling you, occasionally remind him that he can talk to you about anything and that however he feels is OK. I encourage you to simply remain vigilant and watch for signs of anxiety, frustration, or any other behaviors that may be out of the norm for him, and address them as you feel necessary.

You seem to have established a strong foundation of love and trust with your son. I encourage you to continue to nurture his heart and mind with more of the good things you already have. Questions about spirituality are the first among many your son will surprise you with. However, as long as you keep the lines of communication open, I have no doubt he will be eager to look to you first for answers. If you want or need more advice about how to handle questions and discussions like this, feel free to e-mail us again, or try calling our hotline at 1-800-448-3000.