The daughter of an English Anglican and Austrian Jew, author Monica Parker's experiences discussing faith as a child can be summed up with one word: none.
Parker told Deseret News National she was raised with no rituals or religion, which contributed to her contrasting approach as a parent.
“I was spiritually uncared for, and there was a piece of me that used to see children with their parents, and I felt envious," she said. "I made up my mind pretty young that my children would have rituals.”
Those rituals came in the form of celebrating "every holiday possible" and making talk of God a priority, Parker said.
But being open with her son, in particular, about faith had an interesting byproduct other than just keeping him spiritually sound. Colorful conversation about his opinions on what God might look like and what he may do inspired Parker to speak to other children to see "how they're feeling about God."
She documented their answers in her latest book, "OMG!: How Children See God," and said the openness of kids when speaking on faith is what makes her project special.
Parker called her book the faith-based "Kids Say the Darndest Things." Compounded with interviews, she asked kids to draw pictures that might hint at who they are spiritually — and if the drawings indicate anything, it's how these children combine creativity and faith.
"I call God when I need help with things, but not my homework because my mom says I have to do that myself," Jackson, 7, said.
Blair, 10, told Parker she imagined God's house "way back behind a big, pearly gate."
“God can do anything! He is powerful and courageous. He will always, no matter what, help you even if you do not believe in God," Kyla, 12, told Parker.
"God has giant ears 'cause he hears everything we are saying," Gabby, 9, said of her picture.
And when Parker asked Makayla, 11, about her drawing and if there was anything God couldn't do, Makayla answered, "Bring my daddy back."
Carol Kuruvilla wrote for The Huffington Post that Parker sent questions to at least 300 kids, ages 4-12.
Parker told DNN the slew of thoughtful, "unprogrammed" responses makes "OMG!: How Children See God" a great bedtime read.
"They are completely uncensored unless they’ve been programmed; they’re open with wonderful imaginations and filter things through their experiences," Parker said. "A kid from Los Angeles said God was in her backpack so she could get to and from school safely."
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Payton Davis is the Deseret News National intern. Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter, @Davis_DNN.