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#1 of 65 Old 01-01-2008, 09:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DH and I are Athiests and DD has a good friend, a five year old, who is going to Catholic School. Last night she was reading to DD out of her childrens Bible. I was considering telling her to stop but I decided it wasn't a huge issue at the moment because it didn't last very long. What would you do in this situation? I certainly don't want to force my beliefs on my friends DD and I don't want my DD to be taught bible stories right now. Would you try to redirect, say something to their parent or leave it alone?
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#2 of 65 Old 01-01-2008, 09:27 PM
 
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I'd treat it as I would any other story - as an entertaining work of fiction. Though I'd explain that many people believe that the stories are real, but that I do not. I don't think there's much of a need to shut down the reading/storytelling, as long as it doesn't turn into active proselytizing and/or a negative judgment on your family's beliefs.
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#3 of 65 Old 01-01-2008, 09:50 PM
 
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I'd treat it as I would any other story - as an entertaining work of fiction. Though I'd explain that many people believe that the stories are real, but that I do not. I don't think there's much of a need to shut down the reading/storytelling, as long as it doesn't turn into active proselytizing and/or a negative judgment on your family's beliefs.
Yup . . . I would (and have) made it clear to my dd that bible stories are just fiction that some people think are true (not me or her dad, though). The ones she's heard, she thinks are very unbelievable anyway -- like the xmas story/Jesus' conception.

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#4 of 65 Old 01-01-2008, 09:56 PM
 
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Yes, I'm an atheist too and plan on doing the same - treating the bible or any other such works as fiction, or as metaphorical stories used to illustrate a certain way of life. It gets my point across in a way that a child can understand.

Later on, we can move to more "complex" explanations when it comes to religion. Then later still, I can give her some Dawkins to read.
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#5 of 65 Old 01-01-2008, 11:35 PM
 
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I would pay attention to how often things like that happen and if it seams to be getting to be to much then redirect and maybe even have a conversation with the childs mother. It may just be an isolated incident and nothing to fuss about, but you also don't want to teach that your beliefs or lack there of is any less important to you and your family then this childs and her families beliefs. I am of the mind not to make to much fuss because that may just make me look bad, and I want try to show that athiests and agnostics can be just as moral without being told to by a God, but I also get tired of being quite like it makes me no diffrence. I guess base how much you adress the issue on how bothered you are by it or how important it is to you to make a stand. Because even if they are friends they would take exception to trying to tell their child God doesn't exsist.
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#6 of 65 Old 01-02-2008, 03:16 AM
 
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I had a similar situation where dd's friends told her that God created us, so she asked me if it was true. I asked her who God was, she said she didn't know but that he lived in the sky. So I asked her if she thought people could live in the sky, she said no. She then asked me where we came from and I told her that no one really knows, but that there are 2 theories, I explained the theory of evolution in simple terms, and then the theory of Adam and Eve, and asked her which one made more sense to her. She said the evolution one. So I told her to believe that which made the most sense to her. She then asked me what I believed and I said the theory of evolution as well.

She then said well it doesn't make a lot of sense because "if God created us, then who created Him?"... I was really happy that she had come to this question on her own.

(my mom later replied to her (on another day when she asked her) "We created Him".
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#7 of 65 Old 01-02-2008, 03:42 AM
 
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Leave it alone. If she asks any questions, be frank with her but be sure to say it in a way so that she can repeat this to her friend. If you can treat it as a piece of fiction, that's great, but if her friend is trying to convert her, you will need to consider talking about what you believe instead.

I went to a Christian kindergarten, was an agnostic until my teens, then converted. I think she's pretty much safe at this age.

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#8 of 65 Old 01-02-2008, 03:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you I will probably leave it alone for now. I tend to get riled very easy . Her friend is very bossy so I will have to keep an ear out to see if she tries to convert DD. The whole thing really surprised me since her parents know where we stand and the friends dad got the bible to read to DD.

Music-mommy how old was your DD when you had this conversation about evolution/creation?
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#9 of 65 Old 01-02-2008, 05:51 AM
 
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She then said well it doesn't make a lot of sense because "if God created us, then who created Him?"... I was really happy that she had come to this question on her own.
Did you give her the Christian answer to this question? As in 'People who believe in God say that He has always existed'?

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#10 of 65 Old 01-02-2008, 08:40 AM
 
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Yes, I'm an atheist too and plan on doing the same - treating the bible or any other such works as fiction, or as metaphorical stories used to illustrate a certain way of life. It gets my point across in a way that a child can understand.

Later on, we can move to more "complex" explanations when it comes to religion. Then later still, I can give her some Dawkins to read.
:

I would have issues if it was an adult reading the passages, because I would have to question their motivations.


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#11 of 65 Old 01-02-2008, 09:15 AM
 
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I'll be the voice of dissent and say that I wouldn't allow it. I don't want dd to be exposed to anything religious until she's at a less-impressionable age.
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#12 of 65 Old 01-02-2008, 09:33 AM
 
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I'll be the voice of dissent and say that I wouldn't allow it. I don't want dd to be exposed to anything religious until she's at a less-impressionable age.
But how is that possible unless all your friends and their kids are atheist? By 3 DS and BF and I were discussing many different religions because of our community and the celebrations that take place around us. DS knows that faith is a big part of who a person is and asking someone not to express that is asking them to silence who they are. DS' family and friends are made up of many faiths and they all share their beliefs, as does atheist DS, and always have. It used to crack me up hearing them all talk together when they were 4 and 5. Now it amazes me. Kids learn from the example we set and I want DS to grow up in a word where people can be who they are and feel free to express that and examine that and learn from each other without conflict and I think how we react to situations like in the OP is a part of creating that world.

DS has also grown up around myself and his friends' parents discussing our beliefs and non-beliefs, where we're all similar and where we aren't and how we navigate those moments. I never worried when he was young he was too impressionable. I mean he's free to choose whatever he believes in and my guess is it's most likely not going to be static.
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#13 of 65 Old 01-02-2008, 12:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lyttlewon View Post
DH and I are Athiests and DD has a good friend, a five year old, who is going to Catholic School. Last night she was reading to DD out of her childrens Bible. I was considering telling her to stop but I decided it wasn't a huge issue at the moment because it didn't last very long. What would you do in this situation? I certainly don't want to force my beliefs on my friends DD and I don't want my DD to be taught bible stories right now. Would you try to redirect, say something to their parent or leave it alone?
If I am following, it is the child who is reading the story outloud and your daughter is present/hearing her read, in your home? It is not the parent reading to your child and the friend, at their home?

Either way, I am comfortable with ds choosing his own beliefs. We actually just had a conversation about this this morning. How everyone believes different things and that he can believe whatever he wants. I suggested that he could ask different people what they believe about the beginning of life, and death; and each person has their own beliefs. He initiated the conversation by asking me "How was the first animal born?" It was quite a fascinating discussion. He is 6.5.



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#14 of 65 Old 01-02-2008, 01:48 PM
 
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We had a version of this in our house from the other side. I consider myself pretty agnostic/universalist, although we're definitely a "culturally Chistian" household, singing Christmas carols, celebrating Easter and Christmas, decorations in our house include a selection of nativity scenes from around this world. He's been to church with my mom a few times.

I have exposed my son since he was very young to stories from world religions, and I've always presented it as "this is something some people believe is a true story, and some people believe is made up, you can make your own mind", whether it's a story about the Hindu god Ganesh or Noah's Ark. I think he does believe more than I do, the other day I asked him if he believed in Jesus and he shrugged and said "Yeah".

Anyway, my childhood bible was always on his book shelf, I think my mom read him a few stories from it (not in an evangelistic way, just here's a nice bedtime story), and I think I read him a few. He also went through a phase where he liked vegitales and I let him watch them, always with the knowledges that some people believed they were true, but not neccessarily me. One day he had a playdate over, in about Kindergarten, I found he and a friend curled up in a corner "reading" the picture bible together with my son saying "Yes, this really happened" and the other child saying "Nuh Uh, it's just a story", and telling the story of Jonah and the whale in a very 'creative' fashion. The other child comes from a family where one parent was raised Christian and the other Jewish but they don't practice much of either.

I reminded my son that different people could believe different things and that his friend didn't need to believe the stories were true, and called the mom who was fine with it. Of course I've also had to call this mom to let her know that our kids were making jewelry out of clean tampons, and she was fine with that too -- she's a pretty laid back mom.
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#15 of 65 Old 01-02-2008, 02:48 PM
 
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But how is that possible unless all your friends and their kids are atheist?
Well, most of them are, and our families aren't religious. In the social circles I travel in now, no one talks about faith or religious topics, and no one I can think of that we're around goes to any sort of religious services.
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#16 of 65 Old 01-02-2008, 02:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, most of them are, and our families aren't religious. In the social circles I travel in now, no one talks about faith or religious topics, and no one I can think of that we're around goes to any sort of religious services.
This is the only family we socialize with that is religous in any way. My In Laws have given DD Jesus Loves you books before which I have given away. My biggest concern is that children believe in a lot of things we consider fairy tales. DD thought Spongebob Squarepants was a real person until this year. But it was one incident, I probably have spent more time thinking about it than she has , so I will play it by ear and see if it happens again.
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#17 of 65 Old 01-02-2008, 03:40 PM
 
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Well, most of them are, and our families aren't religious. In the social circles I travel in now, no one talks about faith or religious topics, and no one I can think of that we're around goes to any sort of religious services.
I see. Our neighbourhood is really diverse so even though immediate family (which are in other cities anyway) aren't religious some of DS' friends are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Catholic and all wear jewelery or attire which indicate that which has initiated discussions here at home and with friends. We walk past Falun Dafa protesters (silent vigil) outside the Chinese Embassy several times a week etc.

I'm glad DS has access to so many different religions despite our atheism. The world isn't atheist or moving in that direction and so many conflicts in the world seem to be caused by a lack of understanding of each other's beliefs and an othering of those who don't share our own. BF and I have never worried about DS' access to other belief systems and faiths or felt he was too young or impressionable. DS has even had chances to attend temple/church services before and I'm sure he'll have more. That said no one ever around us, including DS, has ever corrected each other when one says they believe X, Y, or Z and if that happened I and all the parents we know would be on top of that.
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#18 of 65 Old 01-02-2008, 03:54 PM
 
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My biggest concern is that children believe in a lot of things we consider fairy tales. DD thought Spongebob Squarepants was a real person until this year.
I don't understand why if belief in one fairy tale is OK or funny why not belief in another one? DS used to believe in a lot of stuff and still does and I never worry about those beliefs and figure he'll sort out his reality vs story on his own time. Why would access to limited religion be any different than any other fiction?
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#19 of 65 Old 01-02-2008, 04:22 PM
 
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I don't understand why if belief in one fairy tale is OK or funny why not belief in another one? DS used to believe in a lot of stuff and still does and I never worry about those beliefs and figure he'll sort out his reality vs story on his own time. Why would access to limited religion be any different than any other fiction?

I agree.
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#20 of 65 Old 01-02-2008, 06:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't understand why if belief in one fairy tale is OK or funny why not belief in another one? DS used to believe in a lot of stuff and still does and I never worry about those beliefs and figure he'll sort out his reality vs story on his own time. Why would access to limited religion be any different than any other fiction?
Because of the type of fiction it is. I just don't think it is age appropriate. Do you limit your children's reading at all?
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#21 of 65 Old 01-02-2008, 06:34 PM
 
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I think that teaches kids religion has more power than it does. It's not some magical thing that impressionable children succumb to upon contact. If we want out atheist children to be able to express what they believe to others and to share their understanding of the world then we have to be a part of creating that world and it really does start with the situation between your DD and her friend. I want all children to feel free to express what they believe.
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#22 of 65 Old 01-02-2008, 06:35 PM
 
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Do you limit your children's reading at all?
No. I believe that controlling ds's media/books is similar to indoctrinating him with beliefs. I want to model tolerance for differing beliefs, that includes those which are different than my own.


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#23 of 65 Old 01-02-2008, 06:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think that teaches kids religion has more power than it does. It's not some magical thing that impressionable children succumb to upon contact. If we want out atheist children to be able to express what they believe to others and to share their understanding of the world then we have to be a part of creating that world and it really does start with the situation between your DD and her friend. I want all children to feel free to express what they believe.
This makes sense.

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No. I believe that controlling ds's media/books is similar to indoctrinating him with beliefs. I want to model tolerance for differing beliefs, that includes those which are different than my own.
Yes it is indoctrinating isn't it? You both have made very excellent points to consider.
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#24 of 65 Old 01-02-2008, 06:55 PM
 
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i'd ignore it.

bible stories are part of our cultural literacy.

they're JUST stories.

as long as the version she's reading doesn't offer up stupid little bits of "that's why jesus loves us more..." in the sidebars.

the Usborne bible stories are good, we use those with our kids because they simply tell the story. and a lot of the stories really do have moral lessons to be learned, just like aesop's fables or any other short story.

no harm done, really, i would relax about it. i think that not KNOWING the stories of the bible would really make it hard to communicate with a large percentage of our population.
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#25 of 65 Old 01-02-2008, 07:15 PM
 
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I agree that its a good thing from a cultural literacy perspective.

I'd suggest you go out and get some of the kids book versions of the Greek and Roman myths, the Norse myths, and Native American legends. Your library ought to have a good selection (hopefully!). There are some gorgeously illustrated ones out there.

Read them all, mix it up. After a good grounding in that, your DD will have about ten versions of a creation story and then you can discuss the whole "A long time ago, people didn't know where the Earth or humans might have come from. But people like to have explanations, so they tried to explain things using only what they knew and images that made sense to them."

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#26 of 65 Old 01-02-2008, 07:34 PM
 
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we've had this same debate in our home a lot.
i've decided that i do want them to know the bible stories because so much of our literature and art reference them and you loose the intricacy of that if you don't have a clue what they are talking about.
but i really like the idea of also exposing to the greek/roman mythology etc. anyone have any specific recommendations on good kid ones? I'm a little nervous as some of them seem so violent (including the bible stories in this) and my kids are pretty sheltered.
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#27 of 65 Old 01-02-2008, 07:44 PM
 
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My dh is atheist, I am buddhist and the kids have been exposed to a number of religious influences - like seeing me reciting -- seeing the haidresser complete her muslim rituals -- attending mass with grandmother and even going to a friend's child baptism. We very often discuss how different people have different beliefs. My goal is not for my children to choose one or another belief but to respect that of others.

It is also important to appreciate that children have an innate "religious" (or spiritual if you wish) sensitivity. As newborns, they certainly do not appreciate the difference between animated creatures and objects, or even parts of their own body. At a very deep level, they perceive the world around them as one with their own being, animated by one same energy and spirit that takes many forms. In their quest to find and build their identity, they gradually find answers that suit their needs, including from fiction and religion. I am really fine with the fact that there will be times in their lives when they find a religion - mine or another - that resonates with their needs - or alternatively to reject religion and be atheist.

Throughout history, those enclaves or towns where different religions exist side by side have been blessed by cultural richness and a respect for other people's beliefs. We are fortunate to live in one such town and while I want to be there to guide their journey and discuss what they feel and what they learn, no, I do not want to limit what they hear -- of course, they should be respected and if they themselves do not want to listen to a story from the bible or go to a religious function they should never be forced.

So in the concrete example of the op, I would not set rules on what the child can or cannot read or be read. I would make it clear that if any story she listens to makes her uncomfortable, she should say so. Also, I would discuss with her my beliefs openly and say that other people think otherwise, including the little girl and her parents
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#28 of 65 Old 01-03-2008, 12:01 AM
 
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It is also important to appreciate that children have an innate "religious" (or spiritual if you wish) sensitivity. As newborns, they certainly do not appreciate the difference between animated creatures and objects, or even parts of their own body. At a very deep level, they perceive the world around them as one with their own being, animated by one same energy and spirit that takes many forms. In their quest to find and build their identity, they gradually find answers that suit their needs, including from fiction and religion. I am really fine with the fact that there will be times in their lives when they find a religion - mine or another - that resonates with their needs - or alternatively to reject religion and be atheist.
This is one of the most amazing perspectives I've heard in years. How lovely and true.

As to the OP, I am struggling w/the whole religion thing and have consisdered posting in the spiritual/religious forum for some insight so I'm of little help. Follow yor instincts is my best advice.
I would be a little leary of the dad of dd's friend and his possible intrusion on your beliefs. I have witnessed religious goers (w/all due respect) try to work their way into changing your one's beliefs. Great thread. I learned a lot.
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#29 of 65 Old 01-03-2008, 12:17 AM
 
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Thank you I will probably leave it alone for now. I tend to get riled very easy . Her friend is very bossy so I will have to keep an ear out to see if she tries to convert DD. The whole thing really surprised me since her parents know where we stand and the friends dad got the bible to read to DD.

Music-mommy how old was your DD when you had this conversation about evolution/creation?

She was 5 1/2



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Did you give her the Christian answer to this question? As in 'People who believe in God say that He has always existed'?
No because that would not have been answer to her question.... she wanted to know WHO created him?
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#30 of 65 Old 01-03-2008, 06:32 AM
 
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Well, the answer is 'Nobody', and the more complete answer is 'He always existed'.

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