I’m Nervous About Discussing Religion With My Kids

I'm Nervous About Discussing Religion With My Kids
2 Comments

I am a Catholic. I don't usually discuss my faith publicly because religion is a divisive issue. I don't want anyone to prejudge me or feel that I've prejudged them if their chosen religion differs from mine. I'm respectful of all faiths and those who don't believe in organized religions. It's a personal choice and it doesn't matter to me what anyone else believes or practices. I worry about the person I am and eventually want to be.

When I scroll through my Facebook feed I often see adorable photos of friends' kids hands clasped with solemn faces deep in prayer. It's too cute. I wonder how people introduce their religions to their kids. I remember being told God created everything. He is our Father. I attended Catholic School as a young child) My religious experiences as a child centered solely around what my mother and the Church taught me. I don't think there is anything wrong with how I was raised but I wonder whether indoctrinating my child into my faith is whats best for my family and my goals as a parent.

Children are curious. I don't feel comfortable telling my son that God created the world. That is what I believe, in addition to other things, but my beliefs are not universal. They're theories. I can't prove anything. I know what I feel in my heart but that's not enough. I'd prefer to teach my kids about a variety of beliefs including non religious ones so that they are able to draw their own conclusions. That preference might also be biased because I enjoy learning about the history of all religions.

All parents have principles and beliefs that they hold dear and hope to pass on to their children. Mine does not include passing on Catholic or Christian (my husband's) beliefs. If my kids choose to follow in my footsteps that's fine too. I am most interested in teaching them to respect all faiths and beliefs. I've spent enough time around religious people to know without a doubt that time spent praying or preaching in a house of worship is not remotely indicative of a person's character.

I don't want my kids to be misled. Some Priests are great. Some aren't. Some Pastors are wonderful. Others are not. The false sense of security that some people fall into when religion is involved frightens me. I'm trying to raise children who question everything. I don't want them to blindly follow doctrines they are not fully capable of understanding. Most importantly I want to be sensitive of their beliefs.

What if they think I'm crazy for praying to an imaginary man? I don't want them to be afraid to tell me they believe in something else or nothing at all. That is perfectly okay with me. I just want them to be good people. Religious or not.

I don't disagree with people who think differently than I do. Religion and faith are beautiful things but I'm nervous about having these discussion with my children when they're older. Religion can also be terrifying. How much blood has been shed over religious differences? I can't tell you how many times as a child I had bone chilling dreams about Satan. I don't want that for my kids. There's a time for everything. I know I will have to discuss religion with my kids eventually and that does make me nervous but I'll be sure to let them know no matter what they choose to believe I'm on their team.

Do you teach your young children about your religious beliefs? How did they handle it?

Veronica Armstrong is a photographer, blogger, and freelance writer whose stories spring from the cinderblock walls of her married graduate student apartment. You can find her on Google+ or see more of her writing and photography on her blog.

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Comments

  • http://twitter.com/Odd__Mama__Out Sol

    Our backgrounds are Christian/Catholic & Jewish. It has not been the easiest thing to talk about with our kids, especially our oldest. When she was in kindergarten I was working at a synagogue and she asked to attend Hebrew School. It seemed like a good idea, especially since when one is Jewish, it is more than a religion-it is also part our culture and ethnicity. We also live in a predominantly Jewish town. Knowing a bit of the basics couldn’t hurt.At the very least her interest would allow her an opportunity to learn a bit about her past.

    After two years she decided to pursue other interests and we didn’t feel it was right to push religion on her. Not that other families are pushing it on their kids but for our family that is how it felt. As neither of us are religious.

    My husband doesn’t have any strong feelings about it so we decided to observe the traditions we had growing up (both Christian and Jewish) and make sure to go over those traditions with our children. In that time our daughter has started to develop her own independent belief in God, in a higher power. She has started to ask questions about the differences in beliefs from one religion to the next. As a family I would say we are agnostic/secular. We try to share what we know and if we do not know the answers, I seek them out for her. We are learning together.

    My hope/desire is that we raise children who value and respect one another. That we live a good life full of compassion and caring for all. That we raise our children with tolerance. Our oldest has asked to attend some local church services next year. I support her path. It is a journey of faith that she has chosen for herself and honestly one I’m happy to support her on–even if I don’t quite believe all that she does. There’s no easy answer. I think every family has that decision to make for themselves.

    • Veronica Armstrong

      Thanks so much for this Sol. I love the diversity in your family’s religious backgrounds and adore your flexibility in letting your children explore their beliefs. You are my role model in this.