my son is confused

Rosie - posted on 12/10/2010 ( 30 moms have responded )

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ok, so this isn't really a huge deal to me, as of yet because my son is only 6, i expect him to be a bit confused about life, and god, and christianity in general. so anyway, my husband and i are atheists, my family is all christian, so is his family. i did send him to a christian preschool, because it was the cheapest one around, and i figure learning about god can't hurt him.



anyway, he and my oldest son were arguing over whether the 3 wisemen were real. he was telling grant (my oldest) that a kid at school was talking to him about santa (which we told him wasn't real) and vincent (my 6 year old) told this other kid that santa wasn't real. this kid replied that he knew that, and started talking about baby jesus and the 3 wisemen. vinnie then proceeded to tell this kid that the 3 wisemen aren't real either. my husband told him a few weeks ago that we don't believe they are real, but some people think they are. i started talking with vinnie about this and he just seems so confused. and it seems as if the christian preschool i sent him to has confused him even more. he told me that his preschool teacher told him god is real, he's just invisible. i expected that, but for some reason i didn't expect my son to be confused, stupid of me i know.



anyhoo, i would like your opinion on how or if i should even try to make this easier for him to understand. i want him to learn about other religions, and i don't want to push my beliefs on him, but i also don't want him to be confused about everything. am i overreacting? how do i resolve this easily? thanks ladies!!!!! :)

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Mary - posted on 12/10/2010

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It may be too late for this, but...

We often tell or read out children stories that teach lessons along the way. Goldilocks and the three bears, Hansel and Gretel, Dora the Explorer...are they real?

Mind you, I grew up in a devoutly Catholic home, but when I was littel, my mother taught me bible stories, including that of the birth of Christ, the same way that she read me Aesop's fables, and all the other classic children's stories. I guess, because she treated them all the same, I didn't really question the reality of them all - or treat the story of the Angel Gabriel, or the three wise men any differently than I did The Wizard of Oz. When I got old enough to question it, she initially responded by asking me if I believed "they" were real (particularly Santa) - and why. She never definitively answered yes or no, but rather guided my own self-discovery by making me think things through myself with questions. It was up to me to draw my own conclusions, which where ever-changing as the years went by.

I STILL believe in Santa Claus - just not the way I did as a child. My mother never lied to me about his "existence"...she just let my understanding of the spirit of Christmas change and mature as I did. I also 'believe' in the the story of the nativity - just not in the concrete-it-happened-this-way-exactly literal sense - but I believe in the MESSAGE of the story.

Does that make any sense? (sorry, I'm a few beers in!)

Veronica - posted on 12/10/2010

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Im kinda unclear as to why you would open your son to God, if you don't believe in God yourself... not saying this in a mean or disrespectful way - I get that you want to open him to other ideals/beliefs, but perhaps he is too young to comprehend all of this right now. Its almost like you are sending him to a school that teaches about santa claus being real, even though we know santa isnt real. Maybe when he is a little older, where he can reason better, and understand different cultures/spiritualism, etc. it might be more beneficial for him. Plus when he is older he can do his research too - soo many books and written material, life, etc. of all and anything he could possibly want to look at.

I dont know if ive helped or not -- but i personally dont know what else to really tell you.....

[deleted account]

Kati, coming from a Christian mother...

I know that one day my children will encounter people who believe differently than we do. I'm not going to protect them from it. I'll use it as a learning opportunity. I think you can use the same approach with your children. Know that they will encounter religious people, and have an answer ready for when it happens. But don't stress about it. Six is still very young. Being confused is part of childhood. =)

Petra - posted on 12/11/2010

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Kati, my brother had a similar problem with his 8 year old last year. My nephew has been raised in an atheist home and we moved to a heavily Christian neighbourhood. One of my nephew's friends told him that he was going to burn in hell because he is not a Christian. My brother asked Toshi (my nephew) if he thought he was going to go to hell, and Tosh said, well no, I don't even know what hell is. So my brother went on to explain that different people believe in different things and briefly explained the concepts - to his buddy & his family, God and Hell are real, but just because they believe in them, doesn't make them true. So he asked Tosh whether he thought he was a good person and deserved to go to Hell, and Tosh said no. So, my brother told him he didn't need to worry about it.



Basically, if your boy is old enough to understand the concept of ideas, you can explain that there are a lot of different ideas about God, Hell, the earth, etc. and let him know that its okay to believe or to not believe, but that he can figure it out as he grows up. Maybe bone up on your religious reading so that you can easily explain things and really let your boy know that its okay to be confused and there is no pressure to decide one way or the other.

Barb - posted on 12/10/2010

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Kati~i just don't want to have to deal with all the "god loves you, and i trust you'll find your way back to him" pity party that they will throw for me."

So what you are saying is you don't have your bags packed for that guilt trip? LOL

I was reading a parenting magazine the other day. It had a great article on raising a spiritual child in a religious world. It cited author Andrew Park and his blog and new book, "Between a church and a hard place" Some fantastic reading. You may find some answers there. Here is the link:

http://us.penguingroup.com/static/html/b...

I don't have the link to the parenting magazine but it was this month's issue.

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Rosie - posted on 12/11/2010

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i would like to say thank you, and most of the advice you've given me is something we already do. and he goes to public kindergarten this year, last year it was preschool just to clear that up a little bit.
we always try to tell him that this is what we believe, and other people believe that god is real. i think that's good enough for now. i was unsure, because he is confused, but the more i think about it, he's going to be confused. hell i'm 32 and i'm confused at how to react toward other people that believe still.
thanks!!

Tara - posted on 12/11/2010

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I talk to my kids about all Religions and we discuss together the good parts of all religions ~~~ to aspire people to be better people.
We talk about Christ more than other religious deities simply because where we live that is the predominant religion.

I would tell him that some people do believe that Jesus was a real person and they also believes stories that were written down a long long time ago.
But I would also tell him that no one can be 100% sure that there really was a man called Jesus and no one can be sure that the stories written about him are true. But some people want to believe them anyway, and it is respectful not to disagree with them, but important to make up his own mind.
We were at a church the other night to see a play. My girls had tons of questions about the hymns we sang (sort of... mumbled along ) and the Bibles in the pews, and the alter etc.
We talked about icons in religion and gathering places, and community etc.
It's a tough one, especially since he is being "indoctrinated" at pre-school every day, and yet being told the opposite at home. It would be confusing for a child, but again just keep it simple, tell him the least you need to for him to be satisfied. More questions will come as he gets older, it will get easier too.

[deleted account]

That's what I've always assumed...but could 2 guys bring 3 gifts? Or 5 guys? Not something worth arguing over, but it's a pet peeve. Jason always takes the wisemen out of my nativity set for that reason...and the fact they weren't even there at the manger...lol.

Tah - posted on 12/11/2010

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@sara..the 3 is probably associated with the gifts they brought to Jesus....

Tracey - posted on 12/11/2010

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Tell your son that people believe in different things and no-one should tell anyone else that their beliefs are wrong.
Teach your son tolerance and respect at this age and he will grow up to be a wise man.

Jenn - posted on 12/11/2010

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I don't know what to say about the wise men etc., but when I read that he told a 6 year old boy that Santa wasn't real it made me sad. :( If someone told my son that it would break his little heart. Yeah, yeah, I know that I'm the one who has played into the lie of Santa, but it's all in fun.

C. - posted on 12/11/2010

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Hmm.. Well.. And I mean this with all due respect, too.. I think if you want to send your child to a Christian Preschool, maybe keep your opinions about whether God is real or not, out of it until he's a little older and understands a bit more?? It sounds kind of harsh, I guess, and I apologize. I just can't think of any other way to put it into words so it doesn't come off as rude at this moment.. Hope you can figure it out soon, though. I honestly don't know what I'd do if it were my son :/

Veronica - posted on 12/10/2010

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lol Nikki -- i think there are parts of religions that are like cults ;)

Nikki - posted on 12/10/2010

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@ Veronica, isn't all religion a cult? j/k lol

@Katie, I really respect that you are open to him finding his own way in life, it is a difficult thing for many parents to do. Not something I think I am open minded enough to do at this stage.

I think he is old enough to learn more about religion, there's no harm in discussing the basics to him so that he has a greater understanding. He is possibly confused because he has heard bits and pieces here and there from different people. You don't need to go into too much depth, just cover the big religions briefly, discuss that they all believe in different things. Religion is a complex concept, it's normal to question things, and it's understandable that it would be confusing, but I am sure as he gets older he will decide how he feels about it all.

My mum just found out last week that I am an atheist, I got told, you are not you are just confused! See even adults are apparently confused about this religion thing.

Stifler's - posted on 12/10/2010

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It's not easy to explain to a kid how God is everywhere yet invisible and that there is the father, son and holy spirit and that God is neither man or woman yet we call him He or that we are made in the likeness of God yet all people look different. It's something that takes years and years to understand and some may never understand. You just have to explain that believing is not always seeing.

Isobel - posted on 12/10/2010

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the other day my mom told me that I was wrong...that indeed I AM a Christian...funny how I was wrong about that ;)

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Well, Kati, you and I are in the same boat in that we maybe both need to let our families know how we feel about God and religion. Most of my family doesn't know that I no longer believe either. They don't know that I have been nodding and faking it for a loooong time. I tried telling my aunt and she told me I'm having a crisis of faith. I told her no, I really don't believe it's true. She referred me to my bible, which I don't even know where it is anymore as I haven't read it in probably 15 years or more.

I really don't know how to help you with your problem with Vinnie and school. To be honest, I probably wouldn't have sent him to a Christian school unless I shared those beliefs. I see where you're coming from as far as why you did it (aside from the cost). I mean, what's it gonna hurt for them to teach him some good morals and values right? Problem is, that's not all they are going to teach him. They are going to teach him based on the Christian faith. It's not all math and reading and spelling. They probably (most religious schools do) have a class about God and Christianity. So by default, your son is going to learn that stuff and then come home to where you and his daddy don't believe the same thing. Maybe if you sat him down and tried explaining to him that he's a big boy and sometimes big boys have to decide what they think is real and what they think isn't. Like how he doesn't believe in Santa...he doesn't have to believe in God but it's ok if he wants to. Something like that? I don't know, I'm probably not the best to give you advice on this because Jacob isn't even IN school yet and also, I have ginormous problems with religion and churches in general. But you know I love ya and I trust that you'll find your way around, or through this :)

Veronica - posted on 12/10/2010

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I guess I really don't understand afterall - and Im sorry Im of no help. Thinking about it - regardless of what religion or nonreligion - questions will be there, and you just do the best you can as a parent. Just trust in yourself Kati - you will do the right thing :) As for the wise men - tell it to him like its just a folklore "in this culture of people, they beleived...." I mean we tell these kind of stories all the time - whether they are true or not. A lot of cultures speak of people,places and events that happen within their 'culture' or history - this is the same thing.

Rosie - posted on 12/10/2010

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i kindof feel like i'm overreacting a bit, i mean he's only 6. how the hell can he understand it all already?? i guess i'm more afraid that i'm pushing my beliefs on him, and i want him to find his own path. plus i don't want him going around telling other peoples kids that they're wrong for their beliefs, lol!

and veronica the reason i sent him there was because it was the cheapest, by ALOT. plus, i know that knowing and learning about god doesn't hurt you, it didn't me. i just didn't think about how it might confuse him, i thought i could just easily explain things to him if questions ever arose. i'm finding the situation to be more difficult to explain that i previously thought. :)

Rosie - posted on 12/10/2010

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the problem is i really havn't told my parents i'm an atheist. i'm not really afraid they'll get mad, i just don't want to have to deal with all the "god loves you, and i trust you'll find your way back to him" pity party that they will throw for me. i just don't have it in me to argue with my family about christianity, i do that enough here, lol!

[deleted account]

Well...I'm sure there are three wise men somewhere in the world. =)

Plus the Bible doesn't specify a number...not really sure where "three" came from...but anywho, that's my own personal pet peeve and doesn't help you...sorry.

Veronica - posted on 12/10/2010

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for the record - i wasnt saying it was bad to put him in christian classes, just looking at maybe he isnt ready to explore that yet, being that he is getting confused. I certainly understand the fact that Kati wants her son to learn diversity -- Kati - have you thought about having your son talk with your family?? Maybe they might be able to help answer his questions.... OR maybe consult your family yourself. I dont think you are overreacting either. I have a hard time explaining who and where God is, let alone why we can't see him. I like to go on the approach that he is everywhere and in every living thing.
Finally - i guess go about it the way you would with other questions kids toss out -- ask him what he thinks, ask him where he thinks God is, and what God looks like, or why he thinks God in invisible -- at least you will have an idea of what is going on in his mind, and you can take it from there....

Amanda - posted on 12/10/2010

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Maybe try explaining that there are a lot of different religions in the world. And that the one you chose, and your husband chose was your choice. You can explain that his grandparents believe in a different religion. Try to get him to understand that every religion is different in some ways but the same in others. helping him learn the difference in the religions might help. Or confuse him more...I dn't know really! Wish I was more help!

Hannah - posted on 12/10/2010

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Heck, I have been a Christian since I was a kid and I'm still confused. There are things I know I will never know or understand and I am ok with that. I believe there has to be something bigger than us and that's that. Of course that is the shortened version but I don't get into all kinds of semantics and don't really care to.



I think it is ok for your son to be confused. I don't think it was terrible of you to send him to a Christian preschool when you are athiest. I applaud you for wanting your children to learn and know different religions.

JuLeah - posted on 12/10/2010

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Confused is part of the human condition. No one 'knows' we all just believe in something. There are as many ways to believe as there are people on the planet.
It is okay for him to be confused. Jews (I am Jewish) are encouraged in our confussion :)
We are expected to ask tough questions and struggle with the answers .... it is all part of learning and it is all good.
Tell him what you believe, let him hear from others what they believe .... and let that cook in his head for the next 20 years or so; he will figure our what he wants to believe in.
As long as questions are okay to ask and all ideas are safe to explore, he will be fine.

Veronica - posted on 12/10/2010

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I dont want to start anything here, but why does one feel they are pushing their beliefs on their kids?? I understand the people who shove the church and bible in kids' faces, deem them sinners and cast them to hell practically ---- but how is instilling your beliefs, practicing and showing them your traditions, and doing things together --pushing it on your kids??
We grew up catholic, im still catholic, but what i was taught, and what i know now - - im a very different catholic - mainly because in a lot of religiions including my own - there are a lot of loop holes, ifs and buts -- i take what i have learned, and i simply share it with my kids. If you want to share your beliefs with your children, i dont see how that is wrong - they will find their way or a new way when they get older anyways.

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