I'm interested in opinions on parenting strategy. (Just out of curiosity.)
Questioning how I was doing things didn't really come up until recently. My current approach is that rather than teach my daughter that the best imaginary friend a girl could have isn't there directly, it's more important to encourage her to be a thinker, and inevitably she'd come to certain conclusions all by herself. Mostly because she's pretty damn quick.
That being said, I feel (felt?) as though she should receive a well rounded religious education. I sent her to church. This sounds like a fairly inane move, but I wanted her to be able to conceptualize the entire experience. Then, of course, it backfires on me. The yahoos at her church tried to force her into baptism. (mind you my daughter is 10) She apparently told them clearly that she'd do nothing of the sort unless she discussed it with me and they did everything but throw her in the tank. Of course I became an angry bear woman, because that's what you do.
My dilemma(s) is(are) this, is raising a child in an unbiased manner possible? It doesn't really matter what you do to keep conversations balanced if she's also hearing her father and I discuss things. (He is relatively new to atheism.) I mean she's already practically made up her mind in a certain sense (she has even created her own mock religion at this point...). While I don't think there should be age requirements upon belief, or more importantly a lack thereof, how important is it and how firm of a grasp should she have on what she's rejecting?
It also doesn't really help that we are temporarily exiled in the bible belt. She's also beginning to suffer some of the social consequences of not living your life with your head in the sand.
There is no such thing as raising a child completely unbiased. I personally wouldn't even try in the first place because I find religion so repugnant. I understand wanting to educate your child about religion (I'd certainly educate mine) but I don't think sending your child to some random Sunday school at the nearest available church is the best way to got about it. Most people who teach Sunday school don't know shit about the Bible. That and if my child did go to a Sunday school I'd want to be there to hear what the teachers are saying so I could discuss it with my child later and so I could keep them from forcing my child into rituals behind my back.
I personally never believed in the first place, I tried/pretended to believe for a while because it seemed so important to certain family members. I officially rejected god at 9 years of age. Somehow I got by with little social consequences despite being open about my non-belief when the topic came up. I didn't live in the bible belt though... I think if your daughter keeps her doubts/non belief on the down low (she doesn't have to hide it) that she will be fine and will emerge as a stronger person in many ways. I also think it might be best to continue her religious education in ways that don't involve her going to a Sunday school that would try to baptize her behind your back. And maybe introducing other religions into the mix would help too.
I live in Spain where catholicism is just about everywhere. But its more of a thing people do rather than a deeply ingrained devotion - don't get me wrong, this kind of religious indoctrination is perhaps the worst due to it being interweaved with culture at a very basic level and its impossible to escape.
As far as my kids are concerned, the approach is to let them learn (religion classes at school are inevitable) and participate (baptism, communion, confirmation... what I call the catholic circus) but yet make it very clear that this is just mythology.
My son at age five asked me whether god exists. I answered that many people do believe in a god. I proceeded to tell him that christians, jews and muslims have their god, and that hidus have a whole pantheon of them just as many other people have. He asked me - the sly little so-and-so - if I believed in god so I told him no. I went on to explain that god(s) don't exist, but that nevertheless many people think they did and the reasons why this was so, which biols down to explaining why we like to imagine things like batman and spiderman.
I don't make much of a fuss about religion. Instead, I try to bring it down to the fairy-tale level which helps avoid too much social confrontation.
The only areas where I do get belligerent is when it comes to creationism or intelligent design bullsh1t. But catholics don't really oppose science in that respect (any more).
I don't live in a religious area, and for sure nothing as horrible as the Bible belt. But still I felt I could maybe help you out a little. I am non religious, and so is my husband, we never tought the children about it, but then again we don't have religious texts in the house, or any religious material for that matter. Because seriously what would be the point of that? xD I agree with Becca though, that you can't raise a child unbiased. I believe that the less you let it become a "problem" The less it will be a problem. I'm not saying your child can't run into some problems regarding the majoritys oppinion on religion, eventually, i know my kids have. But as i said, the best you can do is to just not give it any room in your life, and should the child ask, you answer, honest. =)
I'm sorry Shanna.
If it gets to the point that it upsets things at home it's definitely a problem. I wonder what they're telling him if he's freaking out at the age of three.
The worst is when someone you trust sends them and it goes wrong. I didn't send mine to a random church, it was her long time daycare provider who offered to take her since she was there on Sunday mornings anyway, (and your situation is totally more tough since it's your partner!) and it makes everything very tense when you put a stop to it.