It's tricky, talking to kids about God when you are a nonbeliever. I went with the "Some people believe..." approach. But already, that implies that I am not one of those people.
One aspect of religion that I dislike is that so many people are presented with their family's religion as The Truth from such a young age that they grow up not being able to imagine that anything different could be true. Before we had kids, JW and I talked about their future religious upbringing. He grew up Catholic and wanted to raise the kids Catholic too. He felt it gave him a moral grounding. I disagree that you need religion for a moral grounding, but I agreed that we could do whatever he felt comfortable with as long as the kids learned about different religions and learned to respect different kinds of beliefs.
The thing is, I don't think you can truly respect someone else's beliefs unless you can admit that their beliefs may be true. Otherwise you're down to "tolerance" -- I respect you, and your right to believe that, but I think you're misguided.*
If you are a true believer, if you really have faith, if you really think your truth is The Truth, doesn't that mean you can't accept other people's beliefs as possibly true?
Then again, I guess there are plenty of people who reconcile faith with doubt.**
I envisioned my kids learning about different religions and, when they were old enough to really think for themselves, figuring out what they believed. Now I think I was naive to expect that my beliefs wouldn't rub off on them. By not talking about God except in the context of "what some people believe," I'm basically telling them that God is a nice idea for some people, but not for us. I also didn't realize how hard it would be to explain the whole idea of "God" to someone who is wholly unfamiliar with it. Since I essentially view God as an invented concept, I can't in good conscience say, "God made the world. God is great!" without using the "Some people believe..." qualifier. I guess I could talk about God in the context of love: the love in your heart, the feeling you have of being connected to other living things and to the world we live in, the good you try to do in the world, the way you try to help others, all of that is what some people call God, and we believe in that too but everyone has a different word for it and a different way of showing it. I may try that next time.
* Honestly, though, while I respect religious people in general and share many beliefs in common with them, I view certain parts of religion as kind of crazy. In particular, it's hard for me to accept that there are people who REALLY, LITERALLY believe in EVERY WORD of their religious texts. I mean, just for one example among many, that Bible story about how Lot shoved his virgin daughters out the door to get raped by the villagers, to avoid the villagers raping the angels who were visiting him? WTF. Not to mention the follow-up to that story, where Lot's daughters get him drunk and seduce him. Or to give equal time to the Hinduism I grew up with, in the Bhagavad Gita one of the characters (Arjun?) realizes he's plunging his family and his country into war. He thinks of all the people who will die and reconsiders whether it's worth it. Krishna tells him he needs to stop thinking about that because God wants him to have this war, so it's his duty and he has to do it and it doesn't matter why or what consequences will result because the only important thing is to do God's will. And you know "God's will"... how? "You just do" does not count. And don't get me started on all the passages in books of every religion that promote hating or killing people, including members of your own family, who have different beliefs. So I don't truly respect everyone's beliefs either. I guess there's a line between respecting beliefs that you think are good or reasonable or at least harmless, whether you agree with them or not, and not respecting beliefs that you think are just wrong and/or batshit insane. But I will refrain from discussing this aspect of my feelings about religion with my kids until they are much older.
* Tangent: I found this article on faith and doubt that quotes Joseph Ratzinger, in his pre-Pope days, as writing:
"[T]he believer is always threatened with an uncertainty that in moments of temptation can suddenly and unexpectedly cast a piercing light on the fragility of the whole that usually seems so self-evident to him."
So he accepts uncertainty as a fact of life, but it seems like he's saying that you only acknowledge your uncertainty in a moment of weakness.
He also says:
If, on the one hand, the believer can perfect his faith only on the ocean of nihilism, temptation, and doubt, if he has been assigned the ocean of uncertainty as the only possible one for his faith, on the other, the unbeliever is not to be understood undialectically as a mere man without faith. Just as we have already recognized that the believer does not live immune to doubt but is always threatened by the plunge into the void, so now we can discern the entangled nature of human destinies and say that the nonbeliever does not lead a sealed-off, self-sufficient life either. . . . Just as the believer is choked by the salt water of doubt constantly washed into his mouth by the ocean of uncertainty, so the nonbeliever is troubled by doubts about his unbelief, about the real totality of the world he has made up his mind to explain as a self-contained whole . . . [He too] remains threatened by the question of whether belief is not after all the reality it claims to be. . . . Anyone who makes up his mind to evade the uncertainty of belief will have to experience the uncertainty of unbelief, which can never finally eliminate for certain the possibility that belief may after all be the truth. It is not until belief is rejected that its unrejectability becomes evident.
This is a little believer-centric if you ask me (not that anyone has) because the only reason I would be uncertain is that everyone around is a believer. It's not the uncertainty of "wait, but if I don't believe in God then what's the meaning of life?" It's the uncertainty of "Everyone else seems to believe something different than me, should I re-examine my beliefs?" Which I think is a healthy kind of doubt. Doubt does not have to be troubling. It does not have to be nihilistic. Doubt can be good. Examining your beliefs is a positive thing. If you come out more certain, great. If you come out less certain, aren't you glad that you are no longer blindly following beliefs that you don't actually hold?
I could go on, but I am going to stop before I end up writing some sort of Atheist Manifesto.