Originally Posted by zoebird
i think that somewhere around 8, i would have no problem with DS going with friends and family members to different churches/religious services, because i would assume he would ask questions. if i had enough notice, i would do a bit of research about it before hand to give him a heads up about proper decorum and what to expect, and/or talk with the person with whom he would go to this service.i think it's a good thing, actually, to be exposed to a lot of different religions to better understand and define oneself as well as others. not to 'box them in' so much as to understand diversity.
prior to that, i would likely go with him if he really wanted to go, in order to field questions as they came up. and, that would have to work for me as well, since we don't just follow DS's every whim, but need to look at what works for the family as a whole.
currently, as avid meditators, we are looking at forming a family friendly meditation group through our holistic health center. we will begin meditation with the children with us, and then they will go to another room where there will be free play time, story time, crafting time (which could also be free play time). parents will meditate for 45 minutes, then there will be some discussion for 45 minutes, and then after we'll have a snack time with everyone together again, and then out the door. sort of "church-y" i guess, but the idea is to create a community for him so he sees that other families do this too.
anyway, we are only at the infancy stage of it, so hopefully it will line up quickly.
I agree with the bolded... However, there is a difference between exposure, and what occurs within the walls of some Christian Sunday Schools. I was around that age (7-8) when my mom started allowing me to go to different churches with my friends.Our rule was that I could go anywhere I pleased, but I could not "join" any one church. I was able to visit Buddhist temples, Hindu temples, Pagan gatherings, and various Christian-based churches (Assembly of God, 7th-day Adventist, etc.) However, my mom had to put a limit to some of the Christian church visits. Never the same church more tha a couple times. This was because it didn't end up being a casual "You can come along too!"
vibe... It would end up in constant invitations to various activities. Constant reminders that they were doing such & such on such & such day. Those activities invariably contained messages of conversion... and there was constantly this push to become "saved". It was hard on me. I led a very outside-of-the-norm lifestyle. There was a part of me that just wanted to fit in, and that constant pressure could have gotten to me for sure.
As a pre-teen/ young teen things got worse. The drive to find a place to belong was even stronger. We made a couple major moves, and after the last one I found myself lonely and hurting. A local church group invited me to a few of their activities. They seemed to genuinely care about welcoming me to the area and such. I was so lost, I gladly accepted their extended hands of friendship. There was definitely this pressure to become "saved", though. I tried to ignore it... but it was constant. Then one day I wandered into the Sunday School area and saw a board up. It was a contest board with all of the names of the "regular" Sunday school members. A couple of which were the people I'd considered my friends. The contest was to see how many people the kids could save. They were competing for prizes based on converting people's spirituality! I was disgusted. I'd been rebelling all along against my mother's wishes in attended that church. At that moment I'd realized that she was only looking out for my best interest from the very start. She never pushed her own beliefs on me, but she didn't want others pushing theirs either. All she wanted was for me to be able to expose myself to various spiritual ideas and decide for myself which way my heart was leading me.
In the end, my research and experiences it led me far away from the Christ-God. I don't expect the same from my children. I only wish that they are allowed to grow spiritually in the same way I was. The problem is, they are being raised in a much more Christian-saturated environment than I was. We live in rural TN, and Christianity is everywhere we turn. As such, I don't worry that by keeping them from attending church functions they are being deprived of fair exposure to that spiritual mindset. That would hardly be the case. All I am doing is preventing over
-exposure... while I desperately seek some sort of balance in the form of alternate religions for them to experience and learn about.
I think that meditation group sounds fabulous, BTW! Just the sort of thing I wish we had access to around here.
OP- Where do you live, if you don't mind sharing? Are there secular alternatives in your area that could fulfill that need for gathering
that many children have? I agree that your DD is probably asking because your brother is talking about it so much. That's how those things work. The idea is very appealing to children. Church sounds like loads of fun, and Jesus sounds like a fabulous guy! Of course, by all accounts he was. But he is also part of a pretty intense package. I can understand your desire to shield her from that while she is still developing her sense of self. Children at that age are