I agree, if DS came home asking what 'going to heaven' meant I'd just explain that they had (sorry to be a bit brutal about it, but we try to keep it simple) died. We don't really use 'passed away' or terms like that so he'd be confused if we said anything else.
I'm sorry for your losses, and I certainly wouldn't be offended if someone else's children told my son about their siblings in heaven. That's their beliefs so it's fair enough for them to use wording like that.
I don't think it's an issue for me, it wouldn't bother me if my child came home and said that, but as a firm atheist I would at some stage feel the need to 'correct' her (according to my beliefs) if she talked about it a bit.
I'm sorry for your losses.
I'm a very adament atheist, but if my 4.5yo came home from kindy and repeated what your daughter said, I would probably just gloss over it or explain death without getting into the afterlife side of it. If he really pushed the issue, I would explain that some people believe in an afterlife but we don't. I certainly wouldn't be offended or surprised though as heaven is a very common, if not the dominant, belief.
But, I don't think you need to feel bad or concerned about offending. I will teach my child that there is no afterlife, you will teach your child there is, and those children will communicate that to the other kids. It's just how it goes, and kids eventually work out their own position.
I often find that children- even without being told specifically about an afterlife- generally tend to assume some type of continuation of existence after death. Children don't understand finality of death- especially at 4.
If an ADULT has an issue with a child saying they have brothers and sisters in heaven- well I'd be more concerned for the adult actually.
And even if I was an atheist- I would feel no need to 'correct' my child, why? for what purpose at that age would it serve to sever an emotional connection that supports the development of empathy, sympathy, love and relationships by deliberately telling them that "well actually- there is no heaven- so they are just 'gone"
Believing in an afterlife at a young age supports developments of deeper relationships- it allows children to feel secure in developed relationships even when someone close to them passes.
As they get older I'm sure their views and ideas will change as they learn and experience new things- But at 4, let them believe in heaven. I guess growing up in an atheist family they'll 'grow out' of believing in heaven the same way they grow out of santa, tooth fairy and the easter bunny.
I wouldn't be upset at all and frankly anyone who would be is quite in my opinion insensitive.
I don't believe in god or Jesus myself, but I believe in trying to simplify a terrible situation so a child can understand.
I'd be fine with it, in fact I've told my girls about loved ones dying and going to heaven even though I am not religious, I just think it's nicer and easier for them to accept at this age.
One thing I will never do though (and sorry if this offends) is push any of my beliefs on my children.
I think it's wrong to tell a child what they can and can't believe in.
I'll do the same as my Mum did with us, answer questions as asked and let them make up their own mind.
Sorry for your losses...
I am not religious and it wouldn't worry me in the slightest. It would take a special type of nasty person to be offended.
I wouldn't see it as an issue. I'm not religious and I don't see the harm in it. In fact I think it's a nice way of explaining to children when people die they go to heaven.
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