Teach Child to Pray, or Not to Pray

[deleted account] ( 90 moms have responded )

This one is bothering me in a sense that I see a difference in parenting, not exactly a religious issue. But I think more of the religious believers are siding more with the mother and dismissing the father's wishes. Definately a debatable issue:

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Jenny - posted on 06/01/2011

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Well a child is is a born an atheist until taught otherwise. Better get in there quick so it sticks.



Leave the boy alone, let him be a 2 year old. If you want to teach him about your religion he will learn through observing you. She has all the time in the world, let the kid be a kid already.

Cassie - posted on 06/01/2011

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I think you should speak to them sometime you're together before the situation arises again. Politely and respectfully let them know that while you are respecting their beliefs by quietly sitting during their prayer, that they need to respect your beliefs by not forcing Roxanne to say anything. Let them know that they are modelling their beliefs to her everytime they pray and that it isn't necessary to force a child who has no understanding of what is happening to partake. If she decides on her own to say "Amen" or any other part of prayer than that is her choice to make and they can be happy that they were the ones who showed her. I'm not sure how they would react to that but it has to be a conversation done when everyone is able to politely and respectfully talk...

Krista - posted on 06/02/2011

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I totally get where DMak's coming from. It's one thing to basically say, "This is God, this is what he is about, and Mommy believes in him and believes that he is real. Some people don't, and that's their choice.", and quite another thing to basically say, "This is God, and he is real. That is fact, and everybody else is wrong."

And yeah, it's totally your right to train your kid to believe your mythology as stone-hard truth.

And it's still our right to think it's kind of creepy.

Dana - posted on 06/02/2011

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You bring up a very interesting point that I was pondering the other day, Krista. In this case and many other debates on CoM, atheists always want to jump to the conclusion of indoctrination or "brainwashing' without finding out the full story. I'm noticing that many think they are above it all but, they're just coming from another extreme on the other side of the debate.



It's kind of annoying to try and have a unbiased, comprehensive discussion anymore about religion or God.

Jaime - posted on 06/02/2011

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I agree with giving kids a choice, but I also agree that parents should wait until their child is of the age to be able to reason and understand what is being said to them about religion and non-religion (unless they inquire about it). I think what we might be forgetting is that, in order to form an opinion about something or institute a personal belief, we have to be able to reason all other possibilities out of the equation for ourselves. I am an atheist because I choose to be. I agree with Dana S that the choice has to be available on both sides of the spectrum. A belief in God does not HAVE to be about a specific religion and parents don't have to 'teach' a child about God in favour of a specific religion either. Emerson believed that God is 'divine truth'. That our destiny is a collective effort (the world population) to independently seek 'truth'....truth being God in Emerson's case....and no deity to be worshiped there. I have learned about Emerson's view, I have learned about various perspectives on religion, and I choose to be an atheist because I do not believe that God exists in any form. Without these opposing viewpoints however, I would not have come to these conclusions for myself and would most definitely still be following the Christian teachings of my childhood. The key is to recognize that there is no definitive answer...only a belief that is sprung from freedom of choice. Choice that is removed when one extreme takes precedence over the other.

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Marigold - posted on 07/31/2012

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Remember: when you pray, you are telepathically communicating with an invisible man in the clouds. Kind of strange, isn't it. And a bit insane.

Constance - posted on 06/05/2011

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Oh know. It does drive me crazy that I can't share my beautiful children with my friends.

Constance - posted on 06/05/2011

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Sorry Dana I can't. I would love to but I do have my reasons. I will have t send you a Private message to explain.

[deleted account]

P.S. Constance, you need to post a pic......it's driving me bonkers, and you wouldn't want to be what pushed me over the edge, would you?

[deleted account]

Yes, "it" can't be God.....not in the Christian, religious sense. I don't believe in Jesus, the Bible or organized religion so for me to call "it" God would be misleading to a whole group of people.....

Does that make more sense? LMFAO! Can someone please tell me what I'm trying to say. ;)

Constance - posted on 06/05/2011

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Just reminding I promise before people start taking it to extreme. I love both Danas. LOL

Dana - posted on 06/05/2011

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Yes, I know that...lol



I also know Dmak and I know she's not referring to some "other" name for God.

Constance - posted on 06/05/2011

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Dana S. Just remember not everyone refers to God as God in every religion. It is our t ermbut not everyones

Dana - posted on 06/05/2011

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I just wondered if you refuse to call "it" God because that's a religious term.

[deleted account]

Aaah, shit -- I knew this was going to open a whole new can of worms. :P

I'll call it whatever you want me to call it, but I don't believe in God they way Christians do. Does that help?

[deleted account]

I believe in a higher power, but I just won't call it God.....not a Christian God or any other god.

Michele - posted on 06/05/2011

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JFF - I would like to throw this out there. Have any of you read "Flatland"? (and I know this book does not directly relate to this, but it got me thinking alog these lines). Mathemeticians have "proved" the existence of higher dimensions. However, as 3 dimensional beings we cannot perceive higher spatial dimensions. I believe that it is possible that God is a being that exists in higher dimensions. And just as we can perceive dimensions that are lower order (2D and 1D), this being can perceive us, but we can only see the "shadow" of this being. Again, this is not directly to answer anyone's questions, because I don't think I have the answers, but just to get people thinking.

Michele - posted on 06/04/2011

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For those who think that young children should not be taught about God as fact since they are too young to reason, are religious parents supposed to hire a babysitter while they go to temple or church so as not to indoctrinate their children? Because they will be taught about God as fact there.

Lacye - posted on 06/04/2011

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JL if that was the case then air is not real because it has no corporeal form. Oxygen isn't real because it has no form. So I wonder what are we breathing?

Once again, you don't have to see something in order to believe it. In my opinion, God is real. Why should I not share that with my daughter? Because people believe he isn't anything more than an imaginary friend? Sorry, I'm going to teach my daughter about God. If she grows up and decides that she thinks I'm wrong, fine. But until then, I will continue to talk to her about him.

Jenni - posted on 06/04/2011

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I am an atheist. As some of you know.
My husband was raised atheist, his parents are atheist. He went to church once in his life with his sister for mass.
But he believes in Jesus because he prayed to him when he was in the hospital for his Chrone's Disease and undergoing an operation. He told Jesus if he let him live then he would believe in him. He doesn't believe in God or the bible though, just Jesus. He attributes his recovery to offering his soul to Jesus.
I honestly cannot wrap my head around his beliefs but I don't argue with him about it. If it makes him happy and if that spirituality helped him to recover from his surgery then I wont try to take that away from him.
It doesn't affect how we raise our children, yet. I'm not really sure it ever will. I guess he would be considered sort of agnostic? I'm not even sure. :S

Merry - posted on 06/04/2011

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SO glad matt and I agree on all things religious......this sounds so stressful if you don't agree.

Constance - posted on 06/03/2011

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I had couple of friends she was Catholic and he was Lutheran. She wanted to baptised and he didn't. He told her that if their children chose to baptisted then I would be fine with it but not before the were 12. She finally agreed because he wanted the children to make the choice and not be forced. Both sides had valid reasons and they came to an agreement. I have taught my children my beliefs but I do respect my husbands wishes.

Jaime - posted on 06/03/2011

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Proof that God doesn't exist. In order to exist, you need to 'be' and God doesn't 'be' in coporeal form. A belief in God is different than an insistence that God is as real as the chocolate bar I'm eating. You can believe what you want without fault, but when you start insisting that it's fact based on YOUR personal experiences, that insistence is contributing to indoctrination if you're then imparting this specific set of beliefs onto impressionable minds.

Jennifer - posted on 06/03/2011

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"...when a parent tells their YOUNG...that God is DEFINITELY real, then they're lying"

A most scary thought! If He is real, they are not lying. Assuming He is real and the Bible is true, and He says in His Bible to teach your children about Him, then parents need to do that.

I totally understand that you dont believe He is real because you haven't seen Him, and have no tangible proof. I haven't seen Him either, but unlike what you said, I have met Him.
If your parents had a child before you were born, but the baby died. There were no pictures and you never saw them, would you still doubt that baby's existence?
Some people know God and are known by Him, some dont. You will someday, hopefully it will be before your life ends.
What kind of proof do you need to believe? The world is good proof, yes? It didn't create itself.
Praying for you :)

Charlotte - posted on 06/03/2011

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I am atheist, my husband believes in Polytheism. My husband does not go to church or pray. We have 3 kids are oldest is 13 he says he doesn't believe. Our 6 year old daughter does believe. Our youngest is only 4months. I let my kids find out on their own. My daughter learned from TV. I don't care what anyone else's religion is.

Dana - posted on 06/02/2011

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I just thought everyone would be interested in knowing this in case they haven't gone back to the link lately.

It's from the OP.

thanks for all the replies ladies. appreciate it.
just want to make it clear though, my daughter sees me when i pray and she's trying to copy the hand gesture, thats why i taught her to do the hand not actually teaching her how to pray. for example, it wud be like asking them how to clap, and they'll do the clapping, get it??
also, i ddnt say i was dismissing my partner's opinion, if i was, i wudnt even bother putting this post up here. as ive said we're not on the same page, but we're having a healthy discussion about it not arguing at all. and yes, my partner has a valid opinion, everyone has.
so again, thanks for the replies.

Mary - posted on 06/02/2011

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....when you start at such a young age and present something as fact, it doesn't give the child the opportunity to think for themselves....



I disagree with this assumption. My parents taught me a lot of different things growing up, including religion. I was very fortunate to have parents who really didn't preach anything they didn't practice. They also encouraged me to learn, and explore the world around me, and to question that which I didn't understand.



While I still possess a belief in God, I am fair from the devout Sunday church-goers my parents always were. My spiritual beliefs and practices are pretty far from what I was raised with. Somewhere in my teens, I began to question many things I was raised to either believe or practice. Like most teens, I rebelled, I experimented, I explored. My parents did what they honestly believed was right and best by me, knowing full well that no matter what they taught me, and whatever example they set, there was going to come a time when I would need to decide for myself who I was and wanted to be, as well as what I believed in. Although I have come to see some things similarly to them, I also disagree with them on a fair amount of things. I don't do everything the way that they did. I didn't wait until marriage to have sex, even though they told me they believed that was best (and they themselves did). I don't iron my pillow cases, even though my mother always did, and taught me to do this. I hate gardening in all forms, even though my parents were avid gardeners, and this was how we spent a vast amount of "family" time on weekends (their yard is as well landscaped and maintained as a golf course). If my husband didn't plant flowers, I sure as hell never would.





I think that one of the huge differences between aethists and believers is that, for the believer, that belief is an integral part of who they are, and impacts so much of how they approach a vast array of life events and situations. To try and exclude your child from that aspect of your life is pretty much impossible, and presents less than your whole self to your child. It would be akin to me trying to raise my daughter without ever telling her I was a nurse; instead of telling her what I did for a living and why, I would simply say "Mommy's going to work, but I'm not going to talk to you about it, because I want to make your own choices about your career, so I won't influence your future in any way by telling you what I chose, or why."

Lacye - posted on 06/02/2011

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LOL I have not found any of your comments disrespectful. I don't think you are lost like your SIL does. As I said, I'm not trying to prove he is real. I'm not trying to convince to anybody that he is real. But it was good talking to you though. Have fun with dinner!

[deleted account]

Layce, I think I'm just going to take a step back from this because I don't want my comments to come across disrespectful (I hope the last one didn't because that was not my intent).

I'm being totally sincere when I compare unicorns to God. I can't say they're real, and I can't say they aren't. The ONLY difference between me and you is that you CHOOSE to BELIEVE in God, and the verdict is still out for me. My SIL thinks that I'm "lost" but I'm not. I'm good and at peace with my beliefs, or lack of beliefs.....I just don't really care one way or another UNTIL someone pipes up and tells me that God is real. Show him to me and I will jump on your bandwagon. I have no problem with you believing he's real. Faith is a wonderful thing.

Anyhow, we keep posting at the same time so I'm going to take a step back and put some dinner on the table.

Lacye - posted on 06/02/2011

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As I said, God is real. You don't have to see God to have a relationship with him.

Lacye - posted on 06/02/2011

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You were making plenty sense Dana. :) But God is real. Sorry we can't agree on that.

Lacye - posted on 06/02/2011

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I have had personal experiences with God. But then again, I might be told that I'm completely crazy so why get into that.

But telling you child that the Bible is nothing but a fairy tale is still saying he isn't real. It's like unicorns and dragons. They are part of fairy tales but they aren't real.

As for my husband, he tells our daughter that he doesn't believe the same thing that I do. He tells her that he doesn't believe in God. No he does not have a problem with me saying God is real. Why would he? We have agreed that if she grows up to believe if he's real or not is fine. He says what he thinks, I say what I believe.

[deleted account]

Layce, I have no problem with you telling your child that you BELIEVE in God. I have a problem when people tell their children that God is real. You don't know that for certain. You BELIEVE that to be true, but as long as you're not stating that as a fact, then I'm good. :))

And, thanks Krista.....I was beginning to wonder if I was making any sense.

[deleted account]

What are you supposed to think when I say that?

You're supposed to think that UNTIL GOD BECOMES A FACT, it's just a story. There's no proof. I won't tell my daughter she can't have faith, if that's what SHE chooses, but I'm not going to train her that God is real. You can't say that.....have you met him? Personally I think God should be a women, but meh....who am I, right?!

"To tell a small child that he isn't real without proof, is a lie."

I NEVER said he wasn't real.....I SAID THERE'S NO PROOF! I won't completely discredit that he MIGHT be, but when a parent tells their YOUNG (too young to form their own opinion) that God is DEFINITELY real, then they're lying.

What exactly does your husband tell your daughter about what he believes and doesn't he have a problem with you presenting God as a fact?

Lacye - posted on 06/02/2011

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I haven't said everybody else was wrong. I said, I believe in God. I believe that Jesus is God's son. I believe that he died for the sins of all people and that he rose from the grave 3 days later and ascended into heaven. I am not wrong for teaching my daughter this. How else is she going to know about God if she isn't taught about him?

Lacye - posted on 06/02/2011

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My husband does present his side to her. I have never stopped him. As I have said before, she gets both sides of it.

As for why I think you don't believe in God, this is what you said earlier:

We read Roxanne's toddler Bible to her, but as far as I'm concerned, and as far as she'll ever understand from me, it's just a story. Until there's proof, it's just a fairytale.

That is word for word what you said. What am I supposed to think when you say that?

To tell a small child that he isn't real without proof, is a lie. We can go both ways on the proving things. As I said, I'm not out to change other people's mind. But to say you have a problem with anybody that teaches their child about God is wrong and is a lie, well sorry. I have to stand up and say something. I am not telling my daughter a lie when I say God is real because I do believe he is. Just like you telling your daughter the Bible is a fairytale isn't a lie, because that is what you believe is true.

[deleted account]

Another question, sort of off topic.....

What does your husband say about you telling your daughter that God is REAL?

[deleted account]

I never said God wasn't real......I said there's no proof. He's not fact. Period. I'm not an atheist because I can't say with certainty that he isn't real either, BUT to claim he is, is lying. There's no proof.

"If my daughter grows up to believe in God, then that's fine"

How will she not grow up believing that if that's all your teaching her? Does your husband share his beliefs with her? Are you actively presenting both sides to her?

"But for you to tell a small child that God isn't real, that's a lie in my opinion."

How is it a lie? You can't prove he's real so how am I lying by telling my kid that I'm NOT SURE if he's real or not? I'm not sure why you're under the assumption that I'm telling her that God isn't real? I've never said that, EVER. I don't know, but what I do know is that there is NO PROOF.

You can teach your daughter what it means to have faith in something, but insisting that God is real, is a lie.

Lacye - posted on 06/02/2011

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It's not brainwashing. That's like saying you are brainwashing your daughter by saying God is nothing more than a fairytale. You honestly believe that he isn't real and that's what you are teaching your daughter. I'm teaching my daughter that God is real and yet I'm the one brainwashing and you aren't? Once again. I don't see where it would hurt you physically or emotionally that I teach my daughter that God is real. It's not. You may not agree with it, but that's you. As I said earlier in this thread, I am a Christian, my husband is an atheist. If my daughter grows up to believe in God, then that's fine. If she doesn't, that's fine too. But for you to tell a small child that God isn't real, that's a lie in my opinion.

[deleted account]

Because it's brainwashing, and when you start at such a young age and present something as fact, it doesn't give the child the opportunity to think for themselves. They trust mommy and daddy, and then they get out in the real world and they're thinkin', "WOW! What do you devil worshiping atheists mean, God isn't real?"

Give them a chance to form their own opinions, and don't state it as fact.....THAT'S where I have my problem. If you teach them about multiple religions or you explain that YOU believe but there's not proof, then fine, but to tell a small child that God is real, is a lie, in my opinion.

Lacye - posted on 06/02/2011

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Dana Mak: Why would you have a problem with other people teaching their children that God is real? It's not your child. It's theirs. I don't see how them teaching their own child about God is hurting you in any way. To me, God is real. I don't have to prove it to anybody. If you don't believe then that is you. Not every Christian is trying to pressure nonbelievers into believing.

[deleted account]

But, Laura.....you say Jesus is real.....I say you have no proof! I never said he was or wasn't. Show me proof, and I'll believe.

I'm with Krista, it's upsetting to me that some people teach their children about religion, God, the Bible etc. as FACT. We read Roxanne's toddler Bible to her, but as far as I'm concerned, and as far as she'll ever understand from me, it's just a story. Until there's proof, it's just a fairytale.

If you (general) are telling/teaching your children that God is in fact real, THAT is where I have the problem. I'm rambling again...shit!

Merry - posted on 06/02/2011

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I admit it is similar to brainwashing. But if I believe in say equality ffor all, and I teach my kids that everyone is equal as a fact, this isn't a world wide belief, some people honestly believe that some people are inferior to others. So is it all brainwashing? We just teach our kids what we believe is fact and often it's controversial to some people!
I say jesus is real, you say he isn', so while it does appear to be brainwashing, it's just that I believe for a fact something that you don't. Just like if I believed that eating meat was animal cruelty and you don't. (general you) or if I taught my kids that cell phones cause cancer and someone else thinks it's a bunch of crap.
I guess what I'm saying is alot of what and how we parent borders on brainwashing, we teach what we believe is fact as fact, yet many things aren't world widely accepted as facts.

Krista - posted on 06/02/2011

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@Dana S: Is it even POSSIBLE, however, to have an unbiased discussion about religion? This isn't like a discussion about which TV show is better, or about the relative merits of butter vs. margarine.

Faith is incredibly personal. It reaches to the very core of who a person IS, and in most cases, a person's faith influences their thoughts and feelings on just about every other topic, from gay marriage to ham sandwiches. So when I reject someone's faith, I am in essence telling her, "I think that the very thing upon which you base your entire being, the one truth that you rely upon in a confusing world, is a big fat lie." And I can totally understand why that person would take offense. And the same goes for the inverse.

I think the reason why atheists and the faithful get so "het up" in these discussions is that we have SO much invested in our respective viewpoints. So it's very hard to separate our emotions from things and remain objective. I'll admit freely that I'm not objective in these discussions. I have absolutely no problem with an adult having faith and spirituality, if that's what makes them happy. But yeah, I'm sorry, the thought of teaching little babies that this unproven deity is as real as you and me, and teaching them to worship him, and teaching them that these beliefs are NOT beliefs, but stone-hard truth? That creeps me out. It just does. Parents have every right to do that with their kids, and I have a right to think that it is a form of brainwashing (albeit a relatively benign form of it, in most cases).

Hannah - posted on 06/02/2011

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Well I have had no religious upbringimg myself, bit I remember as a teenager feeling huge doubt and having been given lack of choice by noy having been given any information as I grew up, I was in a moral turmoil. My parents said they wanted to wait until I was old enough to make my own decisions about it as they wren't religious themelves.

As an adult I have come to terms with being satisfied by living a 'good' life by the moral codes I have been brought up with, but few are religious.

My daughter is interested in churches, asnd I try to keep her as informed as I can, she asks why the church bells are ringing, and I say because it is time to go to church, listen to the vicars stories, sing, and think about important things quietly. I want her to have the choice to follow religion even though I never have. If she ever says she wants to go to church then I suppose we will just go so she can see what it's all about and I will do my best to expalin it to her without forcing it on her, she will find her own way.But personally, with my parents best intentions acknowledged, I will always remeber being deprived of that choice, although now I am happy to be athiest but open minded and morally conscience.

Merry - posted on 06/02/2011

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Dana mack, you have a very similar situation to me! Well close. Matt and I are 'active christians' but we don't pray before meals, we just feel like verbal prayers tend to get sort of prideful or pushy, not like really talking to God but more like a recitation of good words. So we don't do prayers out loud. My inlaws do this one prayer before every meal, they say come lord Jesus be our guest and let these gifts to us be blessed we give thanks to the lord for he is good his mercy endures forever, amen.

Now first of all I hate memorized prayers, so impersonal and really don't make you think about God anyways. And secondly this specific one is messed up cuz it starts out speaking TO Jesus, then switches mid prayer to speaking ABOUT the lord. Wth!?!? That's another thing I hate about verbal prayers is sometimes in church the person will switch back and forth to speaking to, or about God, Jesus, etc. I mean how fake is it when you can't even keep the same stance?

Ok so the inlaws encourage Eric to fold his hands close his eyes and bow s head. He refuses, he hates the prayer, he hates when people sing happy birthday together! He just doesn't like it when everyone says the same thing all at once I guess. So he sits and puts on his pouty face through the whole prayer. I wonder if they are actually making him hate prayer! And honestly I hate the prayer they are using so I don't mind that he won't participate.....

Any advise for me? Should I just ignore it? Let them do what they want at their house? Or should I speak to them and tell them I dislike their traditional prayer?

Krista - posted on 06/02/2011

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I did it for years, without really knowing what it was, or what those words even meant. Hell, I think I was in high school before I ever even really considered what Now I Lay Me to Sleep actually meant (and, wow, it is rather morbid!). I recited that before bed every night from probably 3 until my mother stopped tucking me in, but there was no actual thought behind it.

That might have been the case with you, but that's not going to be the case with every child. We don't know all the details from the OP, unfortunately, but there ARE many cases where religious parents are teaching small toddlers that God is very, very real. I've seen comments on that OP and on other threads about people saying that age 1-2 are definitely not too early to teach a child to worship "the Lord", and that they've taught these babies to pray to this deity basically as soon as they were able to talk.

Obviously, I'm coming at this from a biased viewpoint. I won't deny that. But to me, there is something really quite creepy about training these tiny little toddlers how to ritualistically worship and believe in this deity, before they have even so much as an iota of critical thinking ability.

Lacye - posted on 06/01/2011

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My husband and I are in a similar situation. I'm a Christian, he's an atheist. I do take my daughter to church with me when I go, which is like once a month, but if she tells me one day that she doesn't want to go to church, that will be fine. I'm going to give her the choice. I was never into the prayers at bedtime thing myself, so I'm not going to make my daughter do it. I don't pray. I have a conversation with God. That is what I'm going to teach my daughter to do.

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