Do you care whether your children believe in G-d? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 240 Old 08-04-2006, 04:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Mods, I thought about putting this in Religion and Spirituality but I didn't feel it was apropriate. This is a parenting issue, not one of religion. I hope you agree and you won't close it.

Okay, back to the topic. My DD (6) was asking me what is G-d and do I believe in G-d. We are not a very religious family. I told her that I have an idea of what G-d is but the thing that is most important to me is that she make her own decision as to who or what G-d is, if anything.

I told her that to me G-d is nature - it is not a "he" or an image of man.

I then thought about how it isn't important to me, one way or the other, what my DD believes. Is that unusual? Is this a big ethical or values issue that I am missing?
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#2 of 240 Old 08-04-2006, 05:02 PM
 
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Great question! I'm agnostic, my husband is athiest. I used to think that I don't care whether my children believe in God ... and I still don't know if I know for sure. I do know that one day my then-9 yo dd told me that her grandmother told her that "God lives in the sky and wears a long robe and has a long white beard" and I was ticked off as all get out! So, apparently, it does matter to me.

That said, I try my best to help my children's spirituality develop in as open-minded way as possible. I sometimes say, when discussing references to God in something we read or see somewhere, "She" instead of "He". Little things like that, to counter the prevailing religious traditions.

Although I'm not sure if there is a God, and I really don't care (no offense to the Universe's Powers That Be! If you're out there ... ), I'd like to think that if my kids got to a place in their life where they really needed to believe in a God-like being, that I would be okay with that.

Edited to add: I have told my 19 yo (the same dd I mention above) that I am agnostic. So far, she seems to be also. We talk about it fairly regularly. My other kids are under the age of 4, so they haven't been introduced to God yet.
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#3 of 240 Old 08-04-2006, 05:09 PM
 
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agnostic, as is partner, as is son. son is 12. when he used to ask questions I'd answer as honestly as I could from both sides. ie, "I think this but some others think this or this"
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#4 of 240 Old 08-04-2006, 05:15 PM
 
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I'm a church-going Christian (Episcopalian) and turtle doesn't do organized religion, though she does attend church with me most of the time.

Our hope is to help our kids to see that there are a lot of ways to live a good life, and that being religious (like me) is one way, and not being religious (like turtle) is another way.

To answer the OP, no, it doesn't matter either way to us. The kids will come to church sometimes with me/us, and sometimes they'll be with turtle when she chooses not to attend. When they're old enough to make their wants known about church, they'll have the option to do what they want to do. In the meantime, there won't be baptizing or anything like that. Those will be their choices to make.
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#5 of 240 Old 08-04-2006, 05:19 PM
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Our family is Catholic, so I know my DS will at least learn about the Catholic version of God.

What I like about that is that as much as I can teach him myself, and as much as he shows interest in pursuing it himself, he can learn about other ideas about God, and in the meantime, have something from his life to use as a comparison.

If in the end he chooses to not believe in a God/god/goddess/Goddess, I would have no problems accepting it.

M, mom to DS1 (8 yrs), DS2 (5 yrs), and DS3 (2 yrs).

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#6 of 240 Old 08-04-2006, 05:28 PM
 
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: I feel the same way. Though my boys are very interested in God, heaven and the devil and I try to answer their questions to the best of my ability. But if one day thhe either switches religions or chooses another path I will support them in that

We may not have it all together, but together we have it all
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#7 of 240 Old 08-04-2006, 05:29 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arlecchina
when he used to ask questions I'd answer as honestly as I could from both sides. ie, "I think this but some others think this or this"
This is what I plan to do with my young'uns.
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#8 of 240 Old 08-04-2006, 05:55 PM
 
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I feel very much the same way. It's completely up to them.
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#9 of 240 Old 08-04-2006, 05:58 PM
 
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I'm hoping they do not feel the need for "the big grandfather in the sky thing". I'm agnostic and dh tries not to even think about religion. We feel most spiritual when sharing nature with each other and with our family.
So, that said, they do sometimes ask me why this belief in the "other" is so prevalent in society. I tell them it dates back to primitive times when folks needed explanations for thunderstorms, volcanos and other bad stuff. I also tell them our "salvation" lies not in Jesus or any god but in loving and taking care of others. We do a lot of volunteering. We contribute part of our monies to save the planet, feed the hungry charities and so forth.
One of the reasons I left the sunny South was that many folks there insist that children will not grow up be moral adults without a belief in God. Ugh!
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#10 of 240 Old 08-04-2006, 05:59 PM
 
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It is something that is really important to me. I am Lutheran and we reognize all other Christian faiths. I DO think it is important to learn about all other world religions, too, because this is how you live in the world and make nice with others.
that said, i am a Christian and as dumb as this may sound, I want to see my child in heaven someday after I die. If she doesn't have faith, then she won't be there with me, so yeah. I guess it is important to DH (Who shares my belifs) and I.
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#11 of 240 Old 08-04-2006, 06:00 PM
 
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Different perspective here. It's very, very, very very very important to me that my child share my beliefs. She will be taught that this is true, that is false, without apologies. She will not be allowed to not attend our church, to attend conflicting places of worship, or take guidance/instruction from other religions' leaders, before age 18. However if she expresses curiosity we will explore other religions' writings together in our home to compare and contrast, the pros and cons, and explain why I believe they are mistaken. In fact even if she doesn't express curiosity I will probably do a certain amount of this on my own, because it is important to know what's out there to build the skill of discernment. I think that parents who teach either a vague openmindedness or "all religion is made up and stupid" run the risk of their children being among the unfortunate souls who end up in cults, because the child will not be familiar with the nitty gritty of how religion actually "works," what kinds of demands it's normal for religions make on their followers, etc.

However, actual belief will not be forced - obviously you can't force someone to believe - it will be safe to be honest if she doesn't believe - there would obviously be no punishment or anything like that, just sadness - because frankly I would see that as my own failure as a parent, not the child being "bad." I also would not force participation, above and beyond just showing up to church, in ceremonies that imply individual acceptance of the beliefs.

Ultimately I think that God is in control of the level of knowledge we come to about Him. Parents can only set the stage. But I do think they have the right to put restrictions on what kind of spiritual activity takes place in their home.
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#12 of 240 Old 08-04-2006, 06:13 PM
 
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Growing up I had one agnostic parent and the other atheist. I learned about different religions from friends, sometimes I would attend their church with them or my Methodist grandparents and I went to a Protestant summer camp a couple of years with one of my closest friends. But really I didn't learn much at all about religion until I was an adult and did my own research. (I certainly knew what a cult was though! )

I would have liked to have learned more as a child simply so I could understand better what my friends were talking about.

I am raising my children in a Pagan home (DH is catholic but non-practicing) - we celebrate Pagan holidays and discuss what each one means and why we are celebrating. But we also attend a UU church and the children attend religious education there - I like it because it teaches about multiple religions.

It would be great if they were Pagan too so we could connect spritually and continue to celebrate holidays together - but ultimately the decision is there own and I'm fine with whatever they choose to do. As long as they don't try to convert me!

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#13 of 240 Old 08-04-2006, 06:16 PM
 
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I am a unitarian universalist humanist/atheist and my husband is pretty anti-religious atheist. We are raising our kids in the UU church because I feel it does a lot to foster a sense of community, spirituality, exploration, and respect for the world and its people.

My kids are very little still, so I have no idea how this will actually play out. Our church has a very active youth and teenage religious education program (I teach the preschool class) so I am hopeful.

I think it is *harder* to not teach your kids any specific concrete thing about God - after all, kids are pretty concrete creatures for a long time.

However, I do believe, as pp mentioned, that teaching them nothing or vagueness can leave them feeling something is lacking - or prey to the influence of anyone who has a great story and lots of feel-good tactics dressed up as religion. I want my kids to feel that they can explore their spirituality and make their own decisions about their beliefs.

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#14 of 240 Old 08-04-2006, 06:28 PM
 
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I do believe in God and something beyond our physical world. I guess I would be disappointed if dd thought there is nothing. I would care but I can't force belief.

Kim ~mom to one awesome dd (12)

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#15 of 240 Old 08-04-2006, 06:29 PM
 
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No, I don't care. I will teach my spiritual understanding (I am pagan), but it is up to my children to decide for themselves what their truth is.
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#16 of 240 Old 08-04-2006, 06:43 PM
 
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We're a pagan family. I'm following a Druid path, so the kids get lots of panthiest, "divine is present in everything" from me. DH is Asatru, so the kids get lots of Thor/Odin mythology from him. It's fun. I suppose I don't think it's so much important that children learn about "God", necessarily, as they learn about what their parents think and why and are taught the skills necessary to critically think about religion and spirituality.
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#17 of 240 Old 08-04-2006, 07:01 PM
 
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I guess I am in the minority here. But I do care whether my children believe in God.

I am a Christian. I want my children to be Christian. I totally believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He is the only way for us to get to Heaven. I also believe that it is my job to train my children up in this belief. I also teach them that the that although we love everyone, and that we are not better than anyone else, we are right in our beliefs. And it is our ministry to teach others of Jesus.

I teach my children that every moment of every day, every action that we take should bring glory to God. And that we are our happiest when we please Him.

So, yes, I do VERY much care whether or not they believe. I make no appologies or excuses. This is our belief and this is how we will raise our children to believe.

Any misspellings or grammatical errors in the above statement are intentional;
they are placed there for the amusement of those who like to point them out.
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#18 of 240 Old 08-04-2006, 07:31 PM
 
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I would hope my kids would know better.

but to each her/his own
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#19 of 240 Old 08-04-2006, 07:34 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kidzaplenty

So, yes, I do VERY much care whether or not they believe.
What would happen for you if someday one of your children doesn't believe what you believe?
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#20 of 240 Old 08-04-2006, 07:45 PM
 
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I hope that my kids grow up NOT believing in God. But if they decide to, that's their business. I do plan on teaching them about all kinds of religions - that's an important part of human history and culture.
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#21 of 240 Old 08-04-2006, 07:47 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bright
What would happen for you if someday one of your children doesn't believe what you believe?
I truly believe that if I teach them the right way they will not abandon our faith. If for some reason they do one day walk away from it. I would still love them. I would also pray for them daily (as I already do). I would also be a living example of my faith, as we always try to be. They are my children. But even that does not come above my faith. God is my first priority, above my DH, above my children, and above anyone else.

NOT "religion" or church, but GOD. And I have to follow what I believe no matter if anyone else agrees, even if that someone was my own child.

Any misspellings or grammatical errors in the above statement are intentional;
they are placed there for the amusement of those who like to point them out.
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#22 of 240 Old 08-04-2006, 09:06 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MelMel
I would hope my kids would know better.

but to each her/his own
:
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#23 of 240 Old 08-04-2006, 10:43 PM
 
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I believe instilling a love of God in my children is my number one priority as a parent. So yeah it matters to me.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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#24 of 240 Old 08-04-2006, 11:02 PM
 
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This is a really interesting topic.

I am a mother of 4, principal of a small Christian grammar school, so obviously
it is important to me that children come to know Jesus as their Savior. However, I have many parents who are non-believers or believe differently from me.

I am trying to complete a dissertation that I've been working on forever. Your diversity is what I need! I am trying to compare what parents actually look for when choosing a school for their children with school administrators' perceptions. (In other words, why do you choose a certain school for your children: is it religious teaching, academic offerings, moral teaching, fine arts, athletics, etc...) This info will be used to evaluate marketing techniques used in select classical, Christian schools. There are only 10 questions--it takes maybe 5 minutes to complete.

Please consider helping by visiting http://www.graceca.org/parentpage.html

Feel free (PLEASE) to refer your friends to this site, as well.

THANKS!!!
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#25 of 240 Old 08-05-2006, 04:01 AM
 
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Seems to me, religion has 2 (or more) facets; behavior, ethics, and actions as one catagory, and faith and beliefs in another. It is very important to me that my kids grow up with a strong sense of ethics, of knowing right from wrong, and mostly doing right. If they learn this from me, that's fine; if they join a religion and find a structure there for decision making and ethical behavior, that's OK too. The result would be about the same.

Regarding the belief/faith question, I would like my kids to learn to ask the questions. The meaning of life, why are we here, what does it matter type questions. I don't mind so much what their eventual answers to the questions are, as long as they give the existential questions some thought. If they want to "try on" different religions in that process, I will support them. I would be happy if they continue my family's Jewish traditions and heritage for future generations. But I would not really be unhappy if they find fullfillment on another path, as long as their sense of ethical behavior is strong.

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#26 of 240 Old 08-05-2006, 04:24 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MelMel
I would hope my kids would know better.

but to each her/his own
Oh yeah.

I think I would actually be faintly... disappointed and surprised if my kids fell back on the "Big Daddy in the Sky" concept of the divine. Especially if they decided to go all conservative and zealous in the process. Ugh.

I'd probably just patiently wait for the other shoe to drop if they DID go all fundie on me. I've seen lots of kids go through a "hyperreligious" phase, and it seems like most of them sort of grow out of it once they become adults, unless they marry another adherent. Even then, they seem to just kind of quietly move on with their lives like most people do.

Though I tend to think that anyone with a seriously critical mind is unlikely to get sucked into some of these fundamentalist sects, and I'm all about fostering critical thinking skills.

I guess, in the end, I'd have to consider it their own little form of rebellion against their atheist UU mom. And treat them with love while carefully avoiding religious subjects, just like my conservative Xtian mom treats her adult heretic daughter.
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#27 of 240 Old 08-05-2006, 04:28 AM
 
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nope, wouldn't care.

I was raised Catholic and can't say it was for me, but as long as it brings peace and compassion to my children's hearts and not hatred, I am A-Ok with it.

Mama to my spirited J, and L, my homebirth: baby especially DTaP, MMR (family vax injuries)
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#28 of 240 Old 08-05-2006, 05:23 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kidzaplenty
And I have to follow what I believe no matter if anyone else agrees, even if that someone was my own child.
I am completely with you on that, regardless of the fact that our beliefs systems differ greatly. be true to what you believe and you cant really fail I think.
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#29 of 240 Old 08-05-2006, 10:41 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eightyferrettoes
I think I would actually be faintly... disappointed and surprised if my kids fell back on the "Big Daddy in the Sky" concept of the divine. Especially if they decided to go all conservative and zealous in the process. Ugh.
I was thinking about this thread last night and I thought "Oh no - what if one of them got all fundie on me! Eeek!"

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#30 of 240 Old 08-05-2006, 08:01 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HelloKitty
I was thinking about this thread last night and I thought "Oh no - what if one of them got all fundie on me! Eeek!"
Wouldn't that serve us right?
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