How to explain to a child what is “good and bad.”


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While driving in the car earlier today with my  7 year old step daughter in the back seat she asked me, “Angela, are you Catholic or Pentecostal?

I stopped myself from answering immediately and tried to think about the best answer to give.

I chose to go with honesty…

I told her I am neither.

She then asked, “What religion are you?

I knew this conversation was going to be difficult to have with a 7 year who is being raised in a Christian home but I was willing to give it my best.

I do not practice a religion like the one you do sweetie.

She didn’t understand. She then asked me, “So you don’t believe in God?

I said, “Of course I do. I seek out the answers to my questions through my owns life’s experiences with God. I seek to find the Truth within this Universe we live in.

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This is when things got difficult…

How do I explain to a 7 year old that the world is not just black and white? That even if we do not all practice a religion we can still have a belief and faith?

How do I further explain to her that things do not have to be labeled as either 1 of 2 choices…

Good” or “Bad” and that is that!


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Earlier in the day she had taken the crackers out of the kitchen and ate them without asking me.

I want to ask YOU… is this “bad?”

In her religion she would be labeled to have sinned because she “stole” the crackers that her grandmother gave her a month ago from the kitchen drawer in our house without asking permission. However, in her mind these were her crackers that her grandmother had given to her and they were not “mine.” Therefore she saw fit to eat them when she wanted.

Now being the person that I am I thought about this one before explaining to her that even though they were given to her that does not make them hers. As a child she has a large ego and labels things as being hers.

Nothing in this life “belongs” to her and it is all temporarily there for her to experience.


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As adults we are taught to continue on with this belief that things BELONG to us.

They don’t!

We form attachments and place labels on things calling them mine and ours!

They can be given to you just as easily as they can be taken from you.

  • Have you ever lost a job?
  • Have yo ever lost a pet?
  • Have you ever lost an article of clothing?
  • Have you ever broken up in a relationship?
  • And now that these things are “gone” are you no longer the person you were before?

These things did not belong to you. They were there for a moment in time for you to experience. You then attached yourself to them and labeled them as 

  • My job
  • My pet (with a name)
  • My shirt
  • My boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Which by now all these things “belong” to someone else. Someone else now saying that there things are “MINE.”

As children we are taught most all of our beliefs. Some we may form on our own and come to say, “THIS IS WHAT I BELIEVE IN!”

But do we ever ask WHY? WHY DO WE BELIEVE THIS?

She has a distorted view as a child on how the world works and I am finding it more and more difficult to explain to her that not all people are “GOOD” or “BAD” and that is it!

It is that they were simply taught differently than her or you and I.

It is difficult when I view the world differently and would love to open up her eyes to the love that exists within this world. It is difficult because I do not know how to navigate telling a 7 year old that there are varying degrees to how our society measures “right and wrong” and “good and bad.”

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  • Is it wrong to steal food for your child if he/she is starving to death?
  • Is it right to deny a father the right to see his child because he cannot afford to pay child support? (when did love become measurable in money?)
  • Is it bad to punish your child for lying while you yourself told a lie 10 minutes ago?
  • Is it good to give to someone else but you did it in hopes of the favor being returned and not out of pure kindness?

The world is not all black and white! There are shades of gray.

The environment we grow up in teaches us how to behave and how to survive. So how is it acceptable that we judge others for what it is they have been taught as an individual?

Will we all ever agree on what we subjectively perceive to be labeled as good or bad based on what we have been taught?

I suppose time will bring us closer to the answer.

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Creating the Mind Now –Developing new beliefs, creative habits, and establishing inner peace.

You can check out Angela Spagnolo’s book “Thought Land” @  

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