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when is it a child's right not to attend services or worship?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

We are a mixed household. My husband is from India and follows a more strict version of Hinduism that does not appeal to me. I am all for a more moderate, mainstream path of Hinduism, but I also teach our kids that all paths lead to the top of the mountain and in all paths there is inherent goodness. Dh's services that he attends are in someone's home and frankly, very long, drawn out, and boring. I stopped attending years ago but have always encouraged us to all go to the mainstream temple. He chooses not to.


So aside from this conflict we have, my daughters also find the services very long and boring. They don't get a lot out of it but he has taken them about 4x a year to the special days. This last time both kids strongly protested that they did not want to go because it was boring and they didn't understand it. The prayers are all in Sanskrit and the service is about 45 minutes long. I told them it was important to daddy that they go, and it's a good way to learn about their heritage, but they were not sold. Dh also said he was made to go to the long services as a child and yes it was boring, but you get spiritual benefits from it and he's glad he was made to go as a child. The nine year old ended up going but the twelve year old outright refused and in the end she was left behind. She says she doesn't want to go anymore at all and doesn't believe in "that stuff." She is more a universal soul like me. :-)


I don't want to cause problems in our family, I guess I kinda already have by not going to the services myself. At what point and what age can a child have the right to choose his or her own religious path, or bow out of the religion he or she is raised in?



post #2 of 5

As a practicing Zen Buddhist I have perspective that boring services do not provide one with spiritual growth. My son goes to Dharma school but it is in English and they teach about Buddhism in a form accessible to American children.


It is hypocritical to force your kids to go if you are not going. 9 and 12 s old enough to decide.


Perhaps you can have family meeting and figure out your spiritual path as family together.

post #3 of 5

I think children always have the choice to choose their own religious path, and as long as it doesn't prevent the rest of the family from participating in their religion, they can always bow out. In my house, I ask my children ahead of time whether they want to participate so if they choose not to participate, I can make sure they have childcare. If when I ask them if they want to go and they agree but then later change their mind, I will make them attend if I can't find last minute childcare (since I don't think it's fair to cancel the plans for everyone else just because one child changes his or her mind last minute), but they are free to hang out somewhere I can see them and read a book, play on their leappads (with headphones on), etc.... as long as they do it in a way that doesn't seem disrespectful.

post #4 of 5

I was forced to go to church services for a long time. I really think they have a choice, my children can ask to go or they don't have to go now, and I would take them if they asked out of the blue (they have) . But I was forced, sometimes abusively, it really makes me question my faith and the purpose of why I needed to go.  I think because of my background, we don't have a strong faith in our family. I think if you don't go, you should offer the same choice to your children. And be careful about how far you go to force your child to go because it could backfire. No matter how hard you push someone to do something you want, they will still think what they want. So if she is not interested in the same path as your husband, I don't think she can be persuaded otherwise.

post #5 of 5

I think that if it's only 4 times a year, and only 45 minutes, the kids can cope.  For family solidarity, you can go too. Maybe you can get your DH to teach you all some Sanskrit words so you  can try to hear & understand a bit of it; and maybe he can do more to explain the ceremony ahead of time, so you can have a clue as to what's going on. That can make things more interesting.


My son (now 15) will accompany me to church at least 4 times a year: X-mas Eve, Easter, Lunar New Year, & Remembrance Day. I ask him to do it because it pleases me; and yes, I often do things that are a bit tiresome to please him (like read the entire Harry Potter series out loud). That's family life. :)

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