Should you raise your child with one religon or expose them too a few?

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Krista - posted on 06/18/2012

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There is actually a family in my neighborhood that tells their children that anyone who does not have the same beliefs they do is immoral and should not be associated with. These kids have absolutely no knowledge about other religions and beliefs except that they are "wrong" and untrue, and they have been taught that to question their own beliefs is a grave sin.

See, THAT is when I start to consider religion to be brainwashing -- when there is absolutely no room for questioning, and when all other faiths are depicted as immoral. I guess, the way that I look at it, is that if you don't think your faith can withstand questioning, or withstand being exposed to other beliefs, then how secure can you really be IN your faith? Some of the most faithful people I know have no problem answering questions about their faith, and will happy associate with people from all faiths. They're secure in their beliefs, so they're not worried that a mild breeze of "difference" will knock everything down. Whereas the ones who cloister themselves and refuse to be exposed to anything that doesn't jive with their faith...I can't help but think that they must be awfully shaky in their belief if they think it could be damaged THAT easily.

Johnny - posted on 06/17/2012

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I'm really not a big fan of religion at all. So my gut response would be just to expose them to what they all say and let them make up their own mind. I've noticed that many people manage to make their own religious choices despite their upbringing. I know kids raised as atheists who have got religion and kids raised in strict church-going families who have lost their religion. I know a Buddhist who is now a Muslim and a Jew who is now a Mormon. So I find the old chestnut, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it" to be pretty darn inaccurate. Brainwashing can work, but not always.

In our case, we aren't teaching her anything, and we'll let her figure it out for herself. We are just skipping religion entirely. If she wants to try it out, we'll let her. She did ask to go to church, so we took her to a Unitarian service. She was exceedingly bored and hasn't asked again. It worked, lol.

Jenny - posted on 06/21/2012

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Based on my experience, I don't see it as a good idea to raise your kids in one religion, sheltering them away from all others, or identifying them all as false. Of course I understand why people do this, but I came out pretty ignorant about other cultures and their validity, and wouldn't want that for my kids.

I'm not going to go out of my way to expose my kids to different religions but I do think this will happen naturally, and I take these "natural" opportunities to talk to them about what different people believe.

Once my kids are old enough, I can't wait to have philosophical discussions with them about the origin of life, the purpose of life, the possibility of an omnipotent being etc. I think this will be our focus, as well as the relationship between these questions and religion, rather than the focus being on a particular religion itself.

Stifler's - posted on 06/17/2012

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I agree they need knowledge of religion and it's influence on history, we don't necessarily need to take them to a church service from every religion.

Lady Heather - posted on 06/17/2012

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I plan on exposing my kids to many different religions but that is because I don't have one. I want them to be educated. I think even if you are going to raise your kid in a religion, they should at least be aware of the other major religions. I consider that kind of basic knowledge that you need to understand the world.

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MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 06/24/2012

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My daughter knows I am an agnostic theist (she probably doesn't remember the actual "title", just more of what I believe or don't). She also knows, I fully support her searching for her own way, whether it be with a religion or none at all. So far, she is leaning toward having faith but without religious requirements (almost like her Mom, just that I don't say there is a god - it would be nice if there is but I am not counting on it). She wants to believe there is a god, she just wants to leave it at that. This is where she is thus far but then again, she is only 14. ;)



In our home it has never really been at the forefront, we have discussed it, recently because of her having many more questions. Which I like. It tells me she is starting her own little journey in the era of her life.

Jenny - posted on 06/24/2012

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I can see how it worked out for you.

I think my children will not have the luxuray of religion hardly ever coming up in their life. My relatives on both sides are practicing Christians, it is definatley going to come up, they will be exposed to Christianity, they've already been. So for me I find it very important that my children know what I believe so that they know they have a valid choice not to be a part of that.

I was actually thinking about this just before this post came up, at the real possibility that if I and my husband passed away, my kids would probably end up adopted by my parents and be brought up as fundamental christians. Because they are so young they may never know that their mum and dad did not believe in God. I'm going to do my best to make sure they are somehow left with that knowledge.

Johnny - posted on 06/23/2012

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Why would what my parents believe have any bearing on me at all? It wasn't some big secret, it just didn't matter in their life like it doesn't matter in mine now. I think that believers don't realize that for non-believers, we really only need to mention or introduce our lack of belief when someone assumes that we have it. I don't go around in the world telling people I don't believe. It really doesn't come up. The natural state is atheism, we are born like that and exist like that unless someone indoctrinates us or we make up our own beliefs as we grow. So not believing is not really worthy of in depth discussion. Since I didn't come right out and ask them their beliefs, it just didn't come up.

It wasn't until the first time that I went to visit my husband's parents that it occurred to me to ask my husband about his personal religious beliefs. He was obviously not highly observant to a certain dogma, so it wasn't important until as our relationship got more serious and I realized that his family had a particular faith, that I kind of wondered if he had any religious leanings. Then I thought maybe I should find out what his beliefs were to ensure that he would not be having faith-related expectations of me. It didn't matter to me what he believed, as long as he wasn't one of those people who needed to live a certain way because of it or raise our children with certain beliefs (which he isn't).

I think my reaction to my dad sharing that he didn't believe was pretty much something like, "oh, okay. So who do you think can stand up with me for this?" And then he suggested a few people who would be happy to support my taking a journey in the Christian religion. I can assure you that I felt zero sense of betrayal at all. In my world, it just doesn't matter what someone else's personal beliefs are. Like you said, we all develop our own, so why would my parent's beliefs or anyone else's have any bearing on me unless they were the kind of people who expected them to? I just don't get the fuss.

I think you are projecting your deeply religious feelings and the centrality of religion in your life onto me. That has not ever been my experience. Do you want to know how I got involved in going to church and getting baptized? Because the boy I had a crush on was going and I wanted to hang out with him. LOL. Not exactly a deeply spiritual calling. And finding out that my dad didn't believe was interesting but not exactly earth shattering. I stayed in the church for about a year after my baptism, all the while wondering if people were getting anything out of praying and finding the whole idea of "worshipping" a deity kind of strange. Then, after realizing that it wasn't for me, I slowly stopped going. I tried a few other groups, talked with some Mormons, attended a Buddhist temple with my boyfriend for a bit, and then by 17 or 18 realized that I didn't believe either.

I live in a place where there is a huge pluralism of religions and a great many non-believers. No one makes an assumption when meeting a person here that they are religious or that they belong to a particular faith. My family's non-belief is not at all noteworthy here. It came up once at work when discussing where we all got married that most of the people on my team are not religious. Out of 10 of us, one was a regular church attendee, on was a secular Jew who goes to temple for high holidays, and the rest were non-religious and we had all had non-religious weddings (including the now regular church attendee and the secular Jew). So perhaps my local culture is just different and my experiences just made not knowing not a big deal in my life. To this day, I have a close and trusting relationship with both my parents, particularly my dad.

Jenny - posted on 06/22/2012

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Just when you want to be confirmed into a church, you find out that almost all of your relatives, including your dad don't believe in God and you had no idea, sounds pretty screwed up to me. And then even more so that it took your mother another couple years to tell you she does believe.

I could not imagine growing up around my family and not knowing whether or not they believed in God, I'd totally feel like they were holding back, and I would probably have felt betrayed once I found out. But, that's your experience, we don't know all the details, so if you say it all went down smooth, I believe that there is a lot more to the story than my simplified version.

As far as choosing not to tell your kids what you believe, I don't see how it can be harmful. I can say the same thing you do, that I know my beliefs are mine, they resonate in me because I explored and I chose. And all this, despite my parents having "implanted" an opinion into me at an impressionable age.

As soon as I was able to start thinking critically, I begun to question their teaching, and only believed the things that resonated with me. I think every child will do this, it's a part of growing up and becoming and individual, seperate from your parents. At one point they will decide if they want to believe like their parents or choose a different path. And even if they choose to believe like their parents, that is still their chosen path.

I want my kids to know that I don't believe in a Christian God, and that it is okay not to, and also at the same time I want them to know that my parents DO believe in God, and that this is okay also. To not give them that, I feel it would make them feel almost as if it is wrong to say that you believe in anything.

Johnny - posted on 06/22/2012

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Spirituality is NOT the same thing as a religion at all. I knew exactly what both my parents believe happens to us when we die, how we exist in the universe and how we interconnect. When I had questions about what happened when people or animals died, when people fell in love, how children came to be, etc. etc. they were answered and my parents explained how they felt about those things and provided me with what is known about them scientifically.

It sounds like you can't possibly imagine what it is to grow up without religion. I assure you it is not some spiritual wasteland devoid of deeper connections, lol. You don't need some specific "god" or "gods" to focus on to have a spiritual connection on this earth. To me, not being able to understand that is what is rather sad.

Jenny - posted on 06/21/2012

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"I know you don't see it that way, but your story about not knowing your parents didn't believe in God until you tried to commit yourself to being a Catholic is really really sad to me."
-Elfrieda

I agree with you Elfrieda, I see this as sad too. Talking about spirituallity with your kids is a level of intimacy you can share with them. To miss out on that is sad. I dont think its as detrimental if parents don't really hold any views on religion, but if that is a huge part of them, to not share in that, is to not know a large part of who they are.

Lakota - posted on 06/21/2012

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If the parents are Christian, then I'm sure their kids will be raised the same way. Same goes for Buddism, Muslims, etc. I go to a Methodist Church and so does my son. He is raised with my beliefs.

[deleted account]

Sherri, I'm not picking on you, I promise!! I just really like hearing your ideas because they are often so different (from mine). So, you said you are only going to expose your kids to Catholicism, but are you also going to actively shelter them from other religions? How do you plan to explain to them the influence of non-Catholic religions in historic artworks, such as those impacted by Paganism, Judaism, Islam, Greek mythology, etc.? Will you be teaching them that Catholicism is the only true religion and that others are wrong, or will you teach them that there are other religious options available, but you choose to allow them to explore those on their own?



Sorry for the bombardment of questions.

Mandian - posted on 06/19/2012

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We are Pagan, but both of us were raised Baptist Christian. And my best friend is Mormon. I will educate my kids about different religions and let him and her make a choice.

Carlie - posted on 06/19/2012

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First of all no one can RAISE a child in a certain belief... :) I believe what you meant...

is Should you TEACH a child a certain belief in religion or expose them to a variety of beliefs? Perhaps not! But that is how your question would be perceived by most people!

To raise something implies that you will have EXPECTATIONS from your child to....follow the rules in YOUR beliefs....Understand? Let me put it this way: When someone TEACHES someone something, that person is EXPLAINING all points of the idea...pros, cons, different ways of looking at things, etc.

Therefore, I do NOT feel that anyone should RAISE their child in ANY belief. I do, however, feel that it is our obligation as parents, to continue TEACHING our children, about certain things.

So my answer is this: I would TEACH my child about MY PARTICULAR BELIEFS in ANYTHING, but especially, religious faiths. I would also TEACH about OTHER religious faiths, not pertaining to mine. I would also TEACH my child that when she reaches a certain age, she should be allowed to choose which religion she chooses to follow.....and you, as a parent, safe in the knowledge that you've done your job:

TEACHING her about not only your particular beliefs, but others as well....SO when she is older, you've given her choices. And really...isn't that what life is all about? Choices?

Indeed. :)

Mrs. - posted on 06/19/2012

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We moved a lot as a kid. My father was baptized a Catholic, but his grandmother raised him as a Christian Scientist (until she died when he was a preteen). My mother was raised a Quaker (and the other side of the family was Methodist). Both of them were not big believers in religion in adulthood, but they have a huge belief in being involved in the community you live in.

So, every new place we lived we would go to a new church based on how my parents liked the preacher and the community there. They believed in exposing us a variety of religions and letting us decide on our involvement and belief level. The only expectation they had was that we were involved in helping the community somehow...and churches tend to be very good at doing that with their youth. I chose to get involved with music, choirs and drama because of church. Even as a professional now, I am thankful for the variety of choirs and church shows I did as a young girl.

I may not have come out loving me Jesus, but I did come out being able to sight sing pretty well and could hold the mezzo soprano part like a son of a bitch.


I'm not a religious person, I don't go to church. However, I sometimes think about getting involved in a Unitarian church or something for the same purpose my parents involved us in church. But then, I start thinking about some of the bigotry religion presents and the whole getting up early on Sunday...and I balk. Still, I do see value in it and don't dismiss the possibility.

So yeah, in short, I think it is a good idea to expose your kid to a variety of faiths and people in your local community. It creates open, educated kids.

Jodi - posted on 06/19/2012

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"If a family is strong in one faith, then obviously they're going to raise them in that one faith."

Not entirely true for us. I'm a Pagan, my husband just goes with whatever I want, he's Agnostic and doesn't really care, so he celebrates my beliefs with us. But, last winter, we lit a menorah, we participate in some of the traditions of the catholic faith with my family (and not just the "fun" stuff either!) and we routinely "celebrate" some of the "fun" parts of other religions or cultures beliefs and learn a little about the "serious" stuff. Now, my oldest daughter is only 3, so this is pretty limited, but it's something I intend to keep doing. I celebrate my Pagan beliefs and traditions, my children participate, but they also participate in other religions' traditions and beliefs.

I was raised in a catholic home in a catholic town. I didn't even learn there were other religions until 5th grade when we started learning about the crusades. At that point, we were just told the nuts and bolts of the other religion and that it was wrong. I don't want my children to ever think that Paganism is the only religion, or that other religions are "wrong", I make it clear that this is what works for mommy, but that Paganism doesn't work for everybody, that for some people, christianity is what works, or Judiasm or Hinduism etc etc. I make it clear that religion is a choice, you choose the religion that is right for you (this is what I strongly believe, I realize that not everybody feels this way).

This year, I'm hoping to get a dreidel and a Muslim prayer mat for experiences. It's fun for me to learn these things with my children and experience something new.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 06/19/2012

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Well said Johnny. I must agree wholeheartedly!



I have been allowing my daughter find her own way, in regards to religion and/or beliefs. I will answer any questions she has and if I don't know the answer, we will find the answer together. I will support her on whatever journey she decides to take, just please let it be positive! If not I will still support her but guide her back to the positive side of things. I will do this with my son, too. I love my children unconditionally and it is not my place to tell them what they must believe.



Now, if I were brutally religious, yes, I can see instilling our household faith but I would still allow my children to feel their own way through. There is nothing wrong with providing them what you believe, there is something wrong with forcing it on them. If it is apparent that they are not comfortable with your beliefs or have more questions than not, I think it is important to support them in that. Just my two cents....for what they're worth.

Johnny - posted on 06/19/2012

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"It feels like one of those families who never talks about feelings, or never bathes their kids. I hope I don't offend you, we just have very different ideas of what's important."

Umm yeah, that's offensive. But whatever, my parents chose to allow me to find my own path and not brainwash me into their own philosophy. But as you say, we have very different perspectives on this issue. I strongly feel that finding out what one believes for oneself should be a personal journey, but the majority feel that it is their right and responsibility to indoctrinate their kids into their belief system.

As Jakki said, "maybe it doesn't matter what we say to our kids because they'll make up their own minds eventually anyway!" From what I've seen, this happens fairly often. People do often find their own path. But breaking away from what their parents have told them to be the "only true, right, moral way" is often a painful experience that sometimes can be rather psychologically damaging or at least lead to family strife and discord. So many times I see young adults, quite often here on COM, struggling to deal with their parents who are disappointed or even greatly angered by their choice not to continue following their religious beliefs. So I just don't see the benefit of trying to make one's kids believe as their parents at all.

My own spiritual journey to figure out my beliefs is entirely mine. I am quite appreciative of my parent's choice to let me find my own way. It wasn't painful or difficult, although it had its challenges. They always supported me, even when I was looking at things that went against their own belief systems. It was always my choice, and whatever I chose, I knew that their care and love for me was not conditional based on my spiritual placement. One thing that always depresses me is the many parent's of faith I see online who express that they love their child "but". "But it's a struggle because they are gay", "but it's difficult because they don't believe in God", "but we argue because they are living in sin." Now THAT is sad. I understand when people struggle because their child is unhappy or going through great struggle or battling an addiction etc. etc. However, these parents are struggling to care for a child because they don't agree on a philisophy. That is something I've never had to fear from my parents.

As Jenni said, "Personally, I am a factual/skeptical person. I tend to disbelieve supernatural claims unless evidence arises to support those claims. But if that's not who my children are, I want to do my best to support them and help them figure out what they believe" I agree with this entirely. I have my views, but my children are NOT me and should have the right to find out who they are. But then, one of my biggest parenting pet peeves is people who try to create their child's personality and beliefs for them rather than leaving them to find themselves. If my children find that they have faith in a supernatural power, they will be able to claim that spirituality entirely as their own. It won't be because they were born into it and indoctrinated into it. It will be because they have a true strong faith all their own.

Jenni - posted on 06/19/2012

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Well, I'm not religious so I won't be raising my children with one particular religion. I believe that figuring out what you believe on religious/spiritual matters is a personal journey and for some, a life long journey. Considering believing in a higher power is one that requires faith and you will never know for certain that what you believe is factual. It can be tough for some to figure out what they do or do not believe.

I plan on exposing my children to world religions as well as different opinions concerning religious matters and philosophy. As they ask questions, I want to provide them with resources for information and allow them to pursue religions that appeal to them, if any do. I personally believe in waiting until they are old enough to understand such topics and are able to base their own opinions on them. Basically, I think my role is to guide them, provide education, give my opinion if it is asked and support them in their pursuit of spirituality, if they choose to pursue it.

Personally, I am a factual/skeptical person. I tend to disbelieve supernatural claims unless evidence arises to support those claims. But if that's not who my children are, I want to do my best to support them and help them figure out what they believe.

Elfrieda - posted on 06/19/2012

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@Stifler, that's the kind of thing I learned when I was young, too. Also playing cards was bad. Dancing was bad. Not only that, but people who only spoke English were dangerous, and I should avoid them! But I didn't learn it from my parents, it was the atmosphere at the time and place I was raised. My parents deflated each of those beliefs as I expressed them. (just by saying, "No, I don't think so. This is how I see it... and this is why Mrs. So-and-so says things like that...")

@Johnny
I know you don't see it that way, but your story about not knowing your parents didn't believe in God until you tried to commit yourself to being a Catholic is really really sad to me. I think they did you a huge disservice there. To never talk about spiritual things as they relate to you, ever? It feels like one of those families who never talks about feelings, or never bathes their kids. I hope I don't offend you, we just have very different ideas of what's important.

Stifler's - posted on 06/19/2012

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Me too I'm not religious at all and don't even think about whether there is a God or whatever most of the time.

[deleted account]

Yeah - Stiflers Mum - that was what I was taught too!

Evangelical Christianity was TRUTH and everybody else was deluded!

Even Catholics weren't realy Christians because of their "false" beliefs.

But as an adult I came around to atheism, so maybe it doesn't matter what we say to our kids because they'll make up their own minds eventually anyway!

Stifler's - posted on 06/18/2012

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I didn't even ask about other faiths as a child because they were all "wrong" and our way was "right".

Stifler's - posted on 06/18/2012

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kelly that's the kind of religion i grew up with. evangelical christian." the catholics worship mary. jehovas witnesses are going to hell for not believing in jesus. satanists actually worship the devil. muslims are all terrorists and want to take over the world with sharia law. " and so on is what they feed kids.

Johnny - posted on 06/18/2012

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I suppose I see a huge gulf between educating your child on information about various religions, through academic texts and other non-religious texts that provide facts about what a religion believes and indoctrinating a child into a worldview using religious texts that present the faith as fact.

I mentioned that my parents did not even tell me about their own religious beliefs until I was much older, but I actually was taught quite a bit about the major western and eastern religions and schools of philosophy. I was just never taught that there was a "right way" or even a way that my parents believed. I intend to attempt to do the same with my children.

I will say, that even though where we live is not an overly religious area, children would be very hard pressed to not have learned anything about Christianity by the time they get to high school. Keeping them that ignorant would be quite challenging, you'd have to do it on purpose and really work at it.

[deleted account]

I've raised my son without religion the majority of his life however, he has been exposed to it. My 2nd ex was a church organist and my son would go listen to him play. He couldn't figure out what the 'crackers' were and why they were such a big deal. Later he asked if he and I could try a church. We went to a lovely Unitarian church but pressures from the now ex ended that. After his brother was born (my 1st husband's wife's child), they started attended (sporadically) the RCC. I'm afraid my son's too far a heathen for it to do much now, thank goodness.

The boy has enough trouble in his life without suddenly having to worry about a god.

I do also keep 3 copies of the Bible at home which he is encouraged to read as I feel it's important to know it due to it's influence on art, music, etc. Plus it's a benefit to know exactly what it does say vs what people think it says. I have a Qu'ran as well which he is also encouraged to read.

But generally I try to make him a critical thinker. Occam's Razor and all that.

[deleted account]

Jakki, you would be surprised! There is actually a family in my neighborhood that tells their children that anyone who does not have the same beliefs they do is immoral and should not be associated with. These kids have absolutely no knowledge about other religions and beliefs except that they are "wrong" and untrue, and they have been taught that to question their own beliefs is a grave sin.

When I say "expose" I do equate that to "educate". I take it a bit further than most with J, and we actually study the belief / religion in question for a week or so. We look at the history, traditions, and beliefs, then, if we are able, we will attend a worship service or other celebration of that religion. I don't think it is really necessary for everyone to go that far into, I just do because I am exploring them for myself as well.

Krista - posted on 06/18/2012

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I think it's one of those things that really depends on the family. If a family is strong in one faith, then obviously they're going to raise them in that one faith. However, I would hope that if their child has questions about other faiths, that they are willing to answer those questions objectively and not dismiss or denigrate those other paths. For myself, where I am atheist (as is my husband), we have no real plans to expose our children to a bunch of different faiths. However, if the opportunity arises (for example, if we drive past a church and my son asks about it), we'll answer his questions as best as we can and will look up some information together to learn more about it.

[deleted account]

When you say "expose" your kids, is that the same as saying "educate" them?

Like I might say "there are some people who beieve that God wants women not to show their hair in public, and so those women wear a headscarf when they go out". Or "some people believe that when they die they either go to heaven or hell depending on what they've done in their life". Then I usually would add "Your Papa and I believe XYZ"

It's just explaining to your kids that there are a million different beliefs out there, and just to get used to the idea that a lot of people disagree about a lot of things, but it's all OK and not to fight about it.

Doesn't everybody do that?

Jodi - posted on 06/17/2012

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My children have been raised within the Catholic religion (I am not catholic, my husband is), but are being raised with awareness and knowledge of other religions, including the right to question, and think critically about it. Ultimately, I have no particular expectations of them with regard to their beliefs.

However, I will say that I DO think it is important to at least have a broad understanding of what each religion is and how that fits into the world. I only say this because I have recently discovered that there are children at high school level who don't even know what Christianity MEANS (as in, a textbook mentions Christians in the Crusades, and suddenly you have to define what a Christian is (as in, a Christian is a person who believes in Jesus Christ, who is Jesus Christ kind of definition). Christianity is such a large part of our society's history that it features regularly in literature in non-religious studies. I also think the importance in having knowledge is to give the ability to be able to contrast the various views, and how they have impacted in the way society is today.

Does this mean you have to raise your child in a particular religion? No, I have every respect for whatever religion (or not) you choose. But I don't think it is deniable that an understanding of the basics will greatly enhance you understanding of many thing in our societal structures, no matter whether you agree with them or not.

Johnny - posted on 06/17/2012

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"Yes, of course children need to grow up and make their own decisions, but if you don't help them develop a way of seeing the world, they'll be at a huge disadvantage when it comes to the most important parts of being human."

Elfrieda, I'm not quite entirely sure which context you are meaning this, so please excuse me if I am misunderstanding your point. I do not agree that you need to tell a child which philosophical standpoint they should have or you would like them to have towards the world for them to turn out just fine.

My parents did not raise me to follow any specific way of seeing the world. Growing up, politics was discussed a lot, but religion virtually never. I was at least 11 or 12 before I found out that my father didn't believe in God. It was even later, perhaps my mid-teens before my mother ever mentioned her beliefs in God. I only found out that my dad did not believe when I asked him to help me with preparing for my baptism/confirmation and he told me he could not. I had started attending church on my own accord, with their support, and it never occurred to me that my dad had a viewpoint on the issue. It took me a while to find myself a godparent, because none of my parent's close friends or my family turned out to be at all religious. I had no idea, it just never came up. I ended up with a friend's mom because she was a practicing Catholic and my Anglican church figured that was "close enough".

I did a lot of exploring of religion on my own. When I was curious, I asked my parents about their beliefs and they shared, but never told me what to think. I don't think that it disadvantaged me in any way at all, in fact, I think in some facets, it was quite the opposite. I know my beliefs are mine, they resonate in me because I explored and I chose. No one implanted an opinion into me at an impressionable age.

Children are born atheists. Religion is a learned behavior. And learning it is not a necessity for a fulfilling human existence.

[deleted account]

That is an interesting perspective, Elfrieda! I have never considered my philosophy on religious education and acceptance to be a belief system in itself, but I suppose you could look at it that way. This has given me a bit to think about! :)



When I say that I don't know what I believe, I just mean that I don't know what religious beliefs I believe in. I want very much to believe in a higher power because I crave that comfort many of the people who are secure in their faith have, but I just can't wrap my mind around it, so I keep exploring.



I agree that children will, and should be allowed and encouraged to, make their own decisions about their faith and/or religious beliefs, but how can they make an educated decision if they are not exposed to all the different options available to them? Obviously, no one can ever study ALL of them, but by knowing other beliefs are out there, and having some understanding of them, they can pursue a path of their own exploration in the right direction when they are ready, whereas if they were taught that their families' beliefs were the one and only "right" belief system, they will not have anywhere to turn.

Jessica - posted on 06/17/2012

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I'm Pagan, and I do celebrate the holidays in a way that shares my beliefs with my little ones but alot of it is nature based things. For example, at Beltane, we painted pots and planted a bunch of herbs, and on the Summer Solstice we will be doing something fun as well. I wasn't raised with any religion and I made my own choices. My mom is Pagan and my Dad was christian and finally came to see that he really didin't identify with it. Once my mom said basically was she believes, my dad said his thoughts were pretty much on par. For those who don't know much about being Pagan, it really is a broad term covering alot of different variations of belief, but with most of it being based around Nature. My kids will be welcome to find there own path in life when it comes to belief, and i do hope to teach them about all the religions, the good and the bad, but only facts. Ie - Things good and bad that have been done historically in the name of Religion. I will never say that any God/Goddess is FACT though, only that to some people they may be real.

Elfrieda - posted on 06/17/2012

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See Kelly, I would suggest that you DO know what you believe. You believe that it's best if one understands, even a little, what the people around you feel is important. You believe that it's very important to work together to build a productive, inclusive society. You don't believe that there is one right way to live, you believe that there are many ways to achieve the ultimate goal, which you believe is existing together happily and without conflict.



And you're teaching that to your son, which is as it should be. Parents should teach their children what is (in their best guess because nobody can be totally sure but you have to make a choice) right and true. You need to be able to point to something and say, "That is true. That is what we live for." And when you see an example of what you don't believe in, you can point it out to your son and say, "That's wrong. We must always work against that." And as you grow and develop, you'll take your son along on that journey, explaining as you go.



Yes, of course children need to grow up and make their own decisions, but if you don't help them develop a way of seeing the world, they'll be at a huge disadvantage when it comes to the most important parts of being human.

[deleted account]

I think children should be exposed to as many different religions and cultures as possible throughout their childhoods. I think that having an understanding, even if only on a superficial level, of the beliefs and traditions that other people hold dear helps us to understand and relate to different parts of society as a whole. With that understanding, we are able to work together more efficiently to build a more productive, inclusive society.

I do not know what I believe yet. I am honest with J about this. I do not teach him that the religions or beliefs of others are "wrong" or "false" but that everyone does not have to believe the same things or follow the same traditions in order to be friends or work and exist together happily and without conflict.
For example, if he has a friend who is a Buddhist, we do not have to be Buddhists in order to identify and maintain friendship with that friend, but by having an understanding of Buddhist beliefs and traditions, we can better identify with our friend, understand their point of view (when it differs from our own), and know why they do certain things that we may not do ourselves.

[deleted account]

I think it is stupid to teach your child something you don't personally believe in. It would be like teaching them about bottle feeding when you are against formula or smack them when you don't think smacking is right.

I have nothing against any other religion but i sure as hell wouldn't be going out of my way to teach my children something that i don't believe in. If the school wants to do it they can go ahead...but thats doubtful considering its a catholic school.

Stifler's - posted on 06/17/2012

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We are too Johnny neither of us have any desire to go to a church or subscribe to a religion.

Stifler's - posted on 06/17/2012

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I think if you're religious your kids will go to church with you. My parents always took me to church as a kid and now I don't go, people will make their own choices.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 06/17/2012

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For me, where I am an agnostic theist, I allow my daughter to figure her choice out on her own. She currently attends a youth group once a week at our local Christian church. She is finding she does not like praying and she does not like talking about God, that much. She still attends though, mostly due to all of the kids in the neighbourhood going.



I will still openly talk with her, if she wishes. I grew up with Catholics on both sides of me, so I can see that side of things, not that I agree with them, at all. I don't agree with any religion but that does not mean I won't let my daughter figure it out for herself.

Elfrieda - posted on 06/17/2012

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I think you should figure out what you believe, then teach your child that.

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