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By moondance1 On 02/22/04  

I will start by saying that I am not a 'religious' person. I am a spiritual person that doesn't believe in one religion over another. I think all should be treated equally and with respect. This is what I hope to teach my son when he is old enough to comprehend what spirituality and religion are.

I was brought up as a Christian kid because I am from a small Mid-western town and that’s just the way it works. Not a lot of choices. You can be Baptist, Pentecostal, Methodist or many other derivatives of the Christian religion…but Christian all the same. The Christian religion never did really sit well with me. I thought some aspects were nice (do unto others, don’t murder, don’t cheat...etc) but some of the other chapters of the bible just didn’t get me to where I felt I needed to be. This was never an issue until a little one was brought into the mix.

Last week I was talking with my sister in law. Her husband is currently in Seminary. She was asking me where I thought I would take Eli to Church and I told her that I didn’t think we would until he was old enough to understand what religion really means. She asked me if I was a Christian… I said “not really. I feel like I am a spiritual person but not a Christian. I would like to raise Eli to see many religions. Maybe when he is older he could take a religions of the world class and then if he felt a draw to one or another he could study that one or just take something from everything”. She kinda went silent. Then I said “I really don’t like the idea of him being told that there is only one way and it is set in stone”. She was sort of receptive but I could tell she was thinking that I was making a really bad decision.

A couple of days later my husband called his mom. When they got off the phone he said “when we move back I guess we’ll get Eli baptized, huh?” I said “ I’d really rather wait until he’s old enough so he can make that choice for himself”. He was cool with it… but it is pretty obvious that the sister in law called the mother in law and they are worried about poor Eli’s upbringing. The really rough part is that they are much more open- minded when it comes to different religions than my mother. Awhile back my mom can be quoted as saying “I think that if you don’t accept Jesus Christ as your savior you are going to Hell”.

Yeah. Great. I said “mom, do you really believe that?” She said “yes”. And I said “what about all the other people in the rest of the world that weren’t lucky enough to be born in America where Christianity is the chosen religion. Are the people that were born in Tibet all going to Hell because they happened to be born in a country where they were all Buddhist?” She kind of sputtered around and said “no… I don’t think that”.

I didn’t push it… but we may be moving home soon and I am nervous that there are going to be some heated discussions about religion.

How are you choosing to raise your child and have you had to deal with this?


By mindshare On 02/22/04  

I don't have kids so am probably not qualified to answer, but I think that your idea to allow your son to explore all kinds of different beliefs is great and most importantly, respectful. There is so much religious intolerance in this world, that I think if you have the attitude that ALL religions or spiritualities are worth learning about, you're creating a little bit of peace in the centre of the chaos.

I have friends who are atheists but not forbidding their children from exploring religion. The kids go to a Christian school (just because it's a good school with small class sizes) and come home with lots of questions. There's a lot of discussion at home about different beliefs -- it's very open.

As for dealing with your family, all I can do is wish you good luck in staying strong. Some of the very 'strict' Christians I know say that you can only be truly Christian if you question things and try to understand what else is out there; maybe your family would agree if they thought about it that way.

By pomly On 02/22/04  

We are planning on doing the same as you, raising the kid spiritually, but not under any organized religion. I was raised Lutheran. He is Jewish on his Mom's side and his dad is Japanese so he is kinda shinto, kinda christian, not really though. We have it a little easier than you I guess because nobody is gonna really care about it either way. My grandparents would have cared, but they already left the earth and don't get to meet the little one in the flesh. My mom is even exploring eastern religions and philosophies a lot on her own.
Anyway, I think your best weapon will be education in helping them all to understand why you feel the way you do. Maybe your parents don't know a lot about other religions and are Christian because that is how they were brought up, and had no reason to ever doubt it. Tell them about all the good points and bad points of the other religions that are out there... especially including why you think other religions have some good ideas and why Christianity has some bad ideas. Then assure them that you wanna teach good morals to your kids and it's not that you didn't learn anything from your Christian upbringing, but you just don't beleive in everything they have to say. I hope you'll be able to make them understand and accept it.
I think it is way more important to raise kids knowing right from wrong, and how to love and appreciate people and things and be a good person than what religion they are raised. Plenty of people are devout to their religion, but they can still be pretty horrible folks, so what it the point?
Make them listen to you. Good luck!

By looloo On 02/23/04  

I am glad that you posted this, it was actually on my mind this weekend. I was raised in an non-religious home, but my parents allowed me to attend church with my grandmother in pennsylvania ( an Episcopalian church) and then later with friends when we moved ( baptist, catholic and non-denominational churches) I was allowed to form my own religious beliefs with absolutely no "hassle" from family members. I guess I got lucky. That is probably not going to be the case with my children though. My mother in law is really religious and EXTREMELY preachy and I am afraid to break it to her that we are raising our children to be open about their religious beliefs. I guess I should mention here that my husband and I are both atheists, but we also know that everyone needs to make their own choices in life, including our children...

did that make since? I am working and being interrupted...

By jasmineT On 02/23/04  

I think all a parent can ever do is set a good moral base for their children and leave it up to them to decide. I'm a Christian who's never really been into "religion." It's a matter of the heart. We go to a non-denominational church that doesn't baptize until one reaches adulthood. My in-laws freaked but we were firm that it is up to our children to decide. (they think we're going to hell anyway since we're not catholic)

You can still set aside a spirituality hour each Saturday or Sunday where you read from different texts and discuss their meaning. You can also set aside time for gratefulness before an evening meal. I'd recommend reading some books along the lines of Waldorff schooling. (I wish I could remember which one was really great, something about Waldorff and the family...?) It was pretty good about recognizing that we have a spirit and about nurturing the spirit without being overly religous. Also, Quaker and Unitarian churches are more inclusive if you want to partake in a communtiy of believers.

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