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Grandma wants to buy my daughter a children's Bible

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

My mom is going to buy my 4 yo daughter a children's Bible because my dd *gasp* didn't know the story of Noah's ark! While I want dd to know about many different traditions and stories, I am a little freaking out about this.


I am of the persuasion that the original teachings of Jesus have been distorted into something far different than what he intended and that Christianity as we now know it can be harmful to individuals and the Earth. And I tend to fall into a more Pagan/Earth-based spirituality camp. I don't mind her learning the stories, but I guess I am just freaking out that it might start to go beyond that into teaching beliefs and doctrine. I want my daughter to be able to make her own choices, but I am very concerned about teachings that may harm her psyche/soul/spirit by teaching her that she is innately sinful instead of innately wonderful w/ the power to choose to harm or heal.


Any thoughts that could calm my heart? (Please only from those who are sympathetic to my position:))

post #2 of 23

You as a parent are responsible for what is provided in the way of religious education to your children.  You can't stop your mom from buying it, but you control when she gets it.  I would have a very frank discussion with mom that your daughter will not be getting that present anytime soon. alternatively you can suggest she "keep it at her house".  You have a right to say, no I don't want that but thanks anyway.


my two cents, your mileage may vary


post #3 of 23
I agree with you OP. Such a gift would find its way to the Goodwill FAST at my house. Also, I did have to limit overnights at g-ma;s because my mom was trying to "save" my kids. As if they needed that.eyesroll.gif
post #4 of 23

Is it a Bible or just "Bible Stories?" Not that there's a huge difference, but dd asked for a children's book of Bible stories a couple of years ago. She was 8 years-old at the time, so it's definitely a different situation. We live in an area that is mainly made up of Christians. My parents are Christian (albeit the very, very liberal type) and both of my kids are very close to them. Dd was also hearing a lot about church from friends and such. So, we got her the "Bible" and she read it. She was quite amazed that people actually believe those stories quite literally. She got a real kick out of it, and found it to be very interesting. However, it just solidified her stance that she is not a Christian. I would buy her any religious book she was interested in, but that's the big difference between our situations. My dd asked for it. If I were you, I'd find a hidden space in a closet to keep the book. If your dd ever asks what Christians believe, or what the Bible says, you can pull the book out and give it to her. wink1.gif

post #5 of 23
I don't see the harm in it really. It could be the starting point for some important lessons and discussions about religion and dogma, and your own beliefs. I don't think exposure to new ideas is harmful for a child whose parents spend time and energy on teaching and talking things over. You and your teaching will have a HUGE impact on her for her whole life--grandparents are peripheral.

When I was little my gparents on both sides tried to influence my religious education, one side Jewish, the other Christian. One gmother always talking about Baby Jesus and the other always talking about the plight of our people. My parents were not religious, but didn't censor or restrict information. They talked about everything with me and taught me to question. And guess what--my gparents felt respected, and in my mind, all their talk about religion has more to do with them and what they needed to say than it has to do with me. I don't think I internalized anything harmful. My beliefs now are much like yours.

And, it IS good for her to learn the biblical stories, as they're part of our cultural consciousness and will help her relate to others. She won't see it as her gmother's attempt to indoctrinate her--to her it'll just be a pretty picture book of stories. My gmother gave me one when I was little.

I don't know--I think that a pagan/spiritual/earth-based/secular family censoring religious ideas is no better than a fundamentalist Christian family censoring ideas about anything that doesn't fit with their beliefs. Ideas are nothing to fear and censorship doesn't help anyone. Teaching your dd to think for herself is way more important than worrying about what religious stuff she will or won't be exposed to.

That said, you might want to decide when and how to introduce certain lessons to make things age appropriate--some biblical stories are truly disturbing/scary. (I mean, Abraham/Isaac?!) But you really can talk about all of it in the context of your own family's beliefs and values. Just my 2 cents.
post #6 of 23
I don't see a problem with it, either. The Bible and the stories in it have a huge place in Western culture and knowing them is part of being a culturally literate person. References to it and quotes from it are everywhere in history and literature. People ought to know something about the Bible, no matter what they believe. (I'm Jewish and tend to agree with what you say about the teachings of Jesus, although I certainly don't think all denominations of Christianity have distorted them. But my kids still know the stories about him, because they're important to know.)

As long as Grandma's not proselytizing and you're the one reading Noah's Ark to her, saying "This is a story some people have been telling for a long time. Some people think it really happened, but I think..." then you're fine.

Finally, if you'd like to introduce the concept of God as something found in nature and loving, human interactions, you can't do better than the board book Where is God
post #7 of 23

I think now would be a good time to find a children's book of Bible stories you feel comfortable with.  She needs to know these important cultural references and someone is going to teach her.  Better you than anyone else.

post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 

Ah everyone thank you so much for all your wise words! You're helping to put my mind at ease!


Zinemama I think I will buy Where is God? and maybe a children's Bible too that I'm ok with if my Mom hasn't picked up one yet.


And it may be good to dialogue with my Mom about it although it makes me nervous...


I agree Kedrosami that I don't want to censor (except that it be age appropriate) and I want her to learn about different ways of thinking and yes, she does need to know about Christianity since it is such a huge part of our Western culture. I just worry about how it might be presented by someone with a more fundamentalist/evangelical viewpoint. So maybe now is the time to be proactive...


And ditto about the story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac being one of the scariest stories. I never could get past that one as a child! God provided a lamb instead, but Abraham would have killed his child--and that scared me that a parent would kill their child just because God said to.


Anyone have any other ideas for books on God/different religions that would be appropriate for a 4 yo? Or even for somewhat older children, so that i can be prepared for later?

post #9 of 23
I am 100% atheist, but, this wouldn't bother me at all. My mom is Catholic; my kids can choose whatever religion, if any, they want to follow. It would be another book in my house, worthy of questions and discussions, for sure.

I *do* absolutely have a probably with those who would preach to my children saying they are going to hell for whatever reason. I draw the line there, but a general story, especially geared towards children wouldn't bother me. A bible, included.
post #10 of 23
For older kids - but also for you to read now to get some ideas on explaining stuff - a terrific book is What Is God? It describes how people throughout time have tried to answer this question, talks about the various teachers they've looked to for answers, and the books they read. It puts the question in a very universal perspective which I found very appealing and useful.

Someone gave us The Family Story Bible (which is where my kids learned the stories about Jesus). It's pretty good. It uses inclusive language and includes a lot of the stories about women, both from the Hebrew and Christian scriptures.
post #11 of 23


Originally Posted by zinemama View Post

For older kids - but also for you to read now to get some ideas on explaining stuff - a terrific book is What Is God? It describes how people throughout time have tried to answer this question, talks about the various teachers they've looked to for answers, and the books they read. It puts the question in a very universal perspective which I found very appealing and useful.



post #12 of 23

I agree with the PP who said some knowledge of Bible stories can provide a good cultural reference, but I completely understand why you are not jazzed about this "gift."


Does your mom have lots of 1-1 time with your daughter during which you feel or fear she is being indoctrinated into something to which you are averse? 


I think the presence of the book, in and of itself, isn't a big deal.  It has stories like lots of other books have stories.  It's all in the presentation, I would think.


I also agree with the PP who said that anybody who teaches my child they are going to hell would be up a creek with me.


If the bible or "bible stories" are going to be present, either at your house or your mom's, I would be interested in also seeking out books that explain other religious traditions just for some balance.

post #13 of 23


there are all kinds of bibles in my house, and my children were raised spending lots of time with southern baptist family members(we even have missionaries in the family). my 15 and 16 year olds were not harmed or swayed by any of this. one is agnostic, leaning towards atheist, the other is more into nature as a religion. i'm agnostic, but feel a pull towards nature and dh is atheist. i never pushed anything but to question everything! stories are stories, like harry potter.

post #14 of 23

oh and my grandfather once accused me of not doing a good job homeschooling bc my daughters didn't know that easter=jesus died and rose again. as if they'd learn the religious aspect in public school lol

post #15 of 23

I am Christian/Catholic so likely don't object to the idea of teaching my children religion as much as you do. I agree with other it depends on the book in question, who reads it them, and the discussion surrounding it.


We had one children's bible set that started out emphatically stating that evolution was wrong. We finished the chapter. Then pulled out the book about dinosaurs that they have that goes into evolution. We then talked about the two different stories. I threw out the set. We do however have other books that tell the Bible stories.


When we read about Noah and the flood we talk about the fact that many many religions and cultures have great flood stories. Then we go visit a fossil site in the middle of the mid-west with fish bones an talk about the fact that those fossils may be the reason so many cultures have these stories. 

post #16 of 23

Personally, I would put the bible in a closet for now. I think bible stories are one thing if they are told as stories, but teaching religion at 4 years old bothers me. I know lots of people disagree. I just think that each person should be allowed to find their spiritual path in their own time -- AND when they are mature enough to understand what they're learning about. Religion at 4 just seems too much like indoctrination to me.


DD's paternal grandmother (ex-mil) started talking a lot about Heaven and Jesus after her (Grandma's) dog died. (DD at the time was 3 almost 4.) This lead to DD stating that she couldn't wait till she died so she could go see the dog in Heaven, and she started asking if she could die tomorrow. She doesn't have a proper concept of death, let alone an afterlife to be "taught" these kinds of things. Plus to only get that one message without being told all the different beliefs about life after death really bothers me. Like if DD came to me and asked me straight out what happens when we die then I would tell her that no one really knows, but some people believe this, and some people believe that, and some people believe other things, and then ask her what she thinks. Instead, without prompting from her end, DD is being told that Heaven is what happens when you die. Absolutely, without question the only answer. So, now I'm in the difficult position of saying "Well, that's what your grandma believes, BUT..." (and then go on to say what other people believe) And I don't like that. I'd rather not insinuate that her grandma might be wrong or lying or something... I mean, who knows how a 4 year old is going to interpret it when I say something contradictory to another authority figure in her life. Overall, I think it's just too young for strict religious instruction.

post #17 of 23

We are Christian in our house, but we are very liberal.  The bible is used as a history reference and story book; not as a tool to condemn others.   Through the centuries it has been translated so many times that it is certainly not the end all be all.  It is a great tool to teach about peace and acceptance, but also a way to teach about the awful consequences of hatred.  A great book to have in every house as long as it's discussed openly and not used to condemn or judge others.  Judgment is not the job of mortal man.        

post #18 of 23

Have you looked at the Unitarian Universalist bookstore online? They do religious education for children in a very age apporpiate unbiased way. Basically saying that here's what Christianity believes and here's some of those stories without the nightmare inducing parts.


I could have written your post exactly. I'm a Pantheist, believing that Nature and "God" are one so I believe in the divinity and power of nature vs. an actual god. And my family are evangelical Christians and I'm certain my mom is going to want my DD to have a Bible and go to church. She'll have a "bible" and go to Unitarian Universalist church. I did just buy her a children's capter book, for when she's a bit older, called "The Children of Odin" and joked with DH that its her bible. My husband's birth last name was Oden, so I look at it as learning about the religion of her ancestors and that's important to us.

post #19 of 23

We are Christians in our house (Protestant), but we have Catholics, Jews, Atheists, a Buddhist, and other denominations of Christians all in our family.  We told everyone very early that we would teach our child  what we believe and what others believe, and that under no circumstances was anyone to ever say that what someone else believes is wrong to our kids.  If they did, I would tell my child that they were wrong and that they did not need to listen to them anymore.


It has worked pretty well for us, we have Children's Bibles, books on Old testament stories written by a rabbi, and many other books.  We discuss religion and religious beliefs quite openly.  I wanted my kids to feel comfortable in asking questions, but I ultimately feel like religion is a very personal decision, and not one that should be forced.  I prefer that all the stories and books be at my house so my husband or I can answer the questions (because who knows what the rest of my relatives would say).

post #20 of 23

I'm an atheist (was raised Catholic).  I want our children to be exposed to world religions for many reasons.  Exposure is, IMHO, very different from indoctrination.  Our children received no indoctrination at all, and we waited until they started to ask about religon (when eldest was around age 5) to discuss it.  It is very different to answer kids' questions as they naturally arise than to place a great deal of importance on them reading a certain book like the Bible.


If grandma is religious, and she gives your children a bible because she wants them not only to be familiar with the stories, but TO SEE THE SAME RELIGIOUS SIGNIFICANCE IN THEM THAT SHE SEES, that sounds like indoctrination to me.  I think that after kids have reached "the age of reason," around age 7 or so, they can use better critical judgement to evaluate the information coming at them.  The reason most religions don't wait until children are 7 to teach them is that it is much harder to get them to accept things blindly. 

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